Being less critical and more appreciative
Sometimes the default mode we operate from is being critical about someone or something, always.
Someone at your office has this unusual approach to do things and is your first reaction is that it won’t work? Or consider this – you are on a trip and, everyone else is enjoying, but nothing appeases you – the stay, the itinerary, the rented car or the food.
And a lot of other times it’s not even verbal. For example, you find this close friend who has a newfound hobby in videography – they released their first YouTube video after a lot of research, effort and dedication behind the scenes. You don’t see all that. What you see is the final product – a 5-minute video. And your first reaction is ‘that content is so amateur’ or ‘I could have done that so much better’.
And if I have the liberty to extend this cynical behaviour to a further extent then consider this scenario. Someone gives you excellent feedback for a training that you delivered, and instead of feeling content, you start self-doubting yourself if you truly deserved it. So, in short, you spare no one and not even yourself while criticising.
Let’s understand this behaviour a little more.
Why does this happen?
1) The default lens with which we operate for others is different from the lens we use for ourselves
Let me explain using an example
You visit someone’s place, and it’s a tad bit untidy. You’d be quick to make a judgement of how they live in a complete mess. In reality, it’s just a little unorganised or dusty. However, we are quick to perceive and judge the host in a different light.
What we most often do not acknowledge, is the fact, that they might have had a rough day at work or perhaps they are dealing with some personal issues or maybe they don’t prioritise cleaning over their hobby. We don’t know that, but we judge them.
And the irony is, we might not have been any better, given their situation. Being critical of others’ habits is easier than introspecting our habit of judging others and almost always with different parameters than the criteria we use for ourselves
2) Wearing the ‘black hat’ is our default mode
In one of the training sessions that I attended, we were taught about the six thinking hats for decision-making. Each hat has a different colour, and each colour represent a different characteristic. One of them is a black hat which means you need to critically evaluate an option before you make a decision.
Now, if that’s the default mode that you operate in, you are going to be critical of every new idea and person. And you will always find the glass half empty. It is easier to criticise than to appreciate because we have a confirmation bias – the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. If you have a preconceived notion about someone, by criticising your strengthen those beliefs further.
3) People are trying hard to look smart
In this digital age, where we have plenty of information or misinformation, there is a view and counterview for anything and everything.
For instance, at a fundamental level, we would all agree that we should fight corruption, reduce pollution levels, enforce stricter laws against rape or save our planet. However, a lot of what is happening around the globe tells us otherwise.
The recent protests by Greta Thunberg – she received overwhelming support on one hand, and also had to face widespread criticism on the other. This accurately portrays our mindset and behaviour – of how we are divided in terms of our opinions and views, on rather black and white topics
‘For every one person saying it’s possible, there are ten others (if not more) who say it isn’t.’
‘NO’ is a powerful word. It immediately grabs attention, puts the other person in a defensive position. And irrespective of the outcome, the rationale or righteousness, the critic now assumes more consideration than the other person. Simply put, it is an easier way to get attention or appear insightful when the reality could be completely different.
Let’s be a bit more appreciative of people around us and especially those who put a conscious effort into creating or building something. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. They will have their own learning curve – let them find that on their own. They will be kind and considerate when you try something new. And if you could really do much better than them, ask yourself – why aren’t you doing it?
Remember, everyone has ideas, only a few execute and fewer see the goal post. So, be more considerate and less judgemental