Sadje’s Sunday Poser on Monday

Sadje has posed an interesting question. She writes, “When things aren’t going as you like them to, what is the better way to make people realize their error? Praise them in a positive way to make them realize their mistake or criticize their method?” And then she asks, “How do you handle such situations? Do you directly point out the flaw in the way they are doing something or go about it in a diplomatic way?”

My answer is that it depends upon the situation. Criticism may actually be better than praise. Of course, this is in the context of interactions between adults. Interactions with children are a whole different dynamic.

I believe that praising someone for doing an excellent job is great. But praising someone for doing something half-assed or not very well is not at all useful. False praise like that is not going to help a person improve or do better. It’s reinforcing mediocrity.

However, constructive criticism can help a person to see how to be better, more efficient, and/or more effective at whatever task they’re doing. That said, any criticism must be constructive. And if someone is to be subject to criticism, it’s important to criticize the act and not the person.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that praise might be nice and you need to do some of it, but when it comes to improving someone’s skills, performance, or effectiveness, constructive criticism works best.

15 thoughts on “Sadje’s Sunday Poser on Monday

  1. Liz H January 9, 2023 / 7:23 am

    Agreed. I would also highlight that last paragraph that mentions that sometimes we just need a little praise & that’s ok, too.
    It can be tricky, knowing what someone needs at any particular time, especially online and in ‘one-shot’ interactions. Non-verbals & dialogue can help with that. And forgiveness & reframing as we work towards understanding intent, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Roy January 9, 2023 / 8:03 am

    Obviously, of course, it’s not that simple. Genuine praise mixed with thoughtful, informative (constructive) criticism is probably the most effective way to correct somebody. That implies 1.) you have to find something that is real, to praise, and 2.) you have to actually be able to supply a solution or the correct information to the problem at hand, and 3.) do this without insulting the other person. This is based on the 99% of every boss I ever had who did NOT figure this out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 9, 2023 / 10:11 pm

      There is an art to handing out praise and constructive criticism effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nope, Not Pam January 9, 2023 / 11:15 am

    It’s funny, my hubby will praise my efforts when I start out something and it’s not good at all, it when I improve he rips it to shreds. Annoys me to pieces

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cagedunn January 9, 2023 / 2:19 pm

    The big difference between criticism and critique is the aim of the words – criticism is personal, critique is targeted at the object. Example: I get critiques for my writing, and people comment/note issues, errors, share thoughts and feelings. They don’t have to tell me I’m good, or it’s good, but the act of spending time to offer me this service is praise in itself.
    Critique has the purpose of enabling, criticism has the purpose of disabling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 9, 2023 / 11:01 pm

      I think constructive criticism where it’s the act, not the person, being criticized and where instruction is given in how to improve performing the task in question is not disabling. It’s instructive. Perhaps, though, in the context of writing, “critique” has less of a negative connotation that “criticism.” But constructive/instructive criticism can produce positive outcomes.

      Liked by 1 person

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