The roots of criticism and its effect on relationships

Cover credit: Paolo Barzman/Flickr

Cover credit: Paolo Barzman/Flickr

Have you ever felt a sudden urge to criticize someone, even though you knew it might hurt more than help? And have you ever wondered why you had that urge? Although there is such a thing as constructive criticism, people rarely choose it and end up blurting out words that hurt the other party instead of helping them develop.

Criticism is often destructive to relationships especially if it focuses on personality traits rather than a particular behavior. Critical comments are filled with blame and are aimed to belittle.

An article featured on Psychology Today dove into the discussion about criticism and pinpointed the reasons why it rarely works. Apparently, when we criticize someone’s attitude, we not only force them to submit to our assessment but also cause them to feel devalued. As far as people go, being controlled only forces them to resist more. If you want cooperation, it’s better to show that person how much you value them. If you want resistance, then go ahead and criticize.

It seems a bit strange that even though we know criticism doesn’t work, we still do it anyway. The reason we do this is because we are trying to defend our ego somehow. Criticism is a reaction to us feeling a loss of personal value by the attitude or behavior of someone around us. We end up criticizing that person to regain some of our value.

Usually, people who criticize others are ones who were criticized as children. Seeing how kids lack the maturity to understand that the criticism they are receiving, they begin to form a sense of self-judgment. As they grow older, this self criticism is shifted onto others, and all the unworthiness he/she feels is projected onto others hoping.You can bet that whoever is self-critical will be prone to criticize others as well.

If you really care about another person’s improvement, you should aim to give feedback not criticism. Try to focus on solutions to whatever problems you see in their actions. Encourage change and offer to help. Most importantly, respect them and their decisions even if you don’t agree.