您的浏览器不支持FLASH,无法播放语音,请点此下载并安装FLASH PLAYER


Lesson 4

               Does Criticism Do More Harm Than Good to People?


                       A Yoang Woman Who Fears Compliments

    Marya, a brilliant graduate student in her early twenties who came for consultation, insisted that she could improve only with criticism. Her reasoning was that she knew the good qualities but that she did not know the bad ones. To have more knowledge of her negative qualities, she believed,would add to her self-understanding and thus enable her to see herself more completely. Marya, in effect, refused to acknowledge and to understand her strengths. She had assembled detailed lists of her negative qualities which she used daily to support an extremely negative view of herself . But they were either exaggerated or unreal.

    Despite her attractiveness to others, she convinced herself that she was ugly. When her family bought her new and well-designed articles of clothing (she seldom. bought any herself ), she left them hanging in the closet for weeks before wearing them once. When someone complimented her on what she wore and asked whether it was new, she could honestly answer no. She did not "deserve" to wear new clothes. She could not bear the pain of hearing compliments, of seeing herself as intelIigent, pretty, or worthwhile.

    As a child, Marya had received little or no criticism from her parents. She was prized by them. Their major disappointment in her apparently was that she often rejected their overtures of kindness and appreciation, not in anger but in embarrassment, as though she were undeserving. This seemingly mild-mannered young woman, exceptionally courteous and considerate to others, held onto her own negative selfjudgment with tenacity. Finally, friends and interested faculty members quit acceding to her persuasive requests for criticism that they could not honestly give. Instead, they gently but firmly confronted her with her own blindness to what she truly was like.

II . Read
    Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.

                             l. Unfair Criticism
    Stuart is a typical sixteen-year-old boy who experienced and suffered from the criticism of an alcoholic parent. It seemed to 5tuart the only thing his father ever had to say to him was, "You haven't got a brain in your head. ?Stuart was a sophomore in high school. It was true he was a poor student, or what his dean called an "underachiever".

 Even though Stuart knew he was an underachiever, he would have liked to hear his father say, just once, something else when he brought home his report card other than his usual, "You haven't got a brain in your head."
Stuart was determined to prove to his father he did have a brain in his head. Stuart studied very hard. Some nights it was difficult for him to concentrate on his homework because he could hear his parents bickering in the next room.

    "You forgot to pay the mortgage again. The bank is fed up."
    "How many times can a person smash up a car? I , m sucprised they haven't taken your license away! "
    "If you wouldn't drink so much . . . "
    Stuart didn't like the bickering, and wondered if his parents might separate. He wondered, too, because his father was so forgetful about paying the bills, if they might lose their home.
    He kept telling himself that if he studied hard, maybe, by some miracle, things would get better at home.

    Stuart's determination to concentrate on his school work, in spite of the bickering and worries at home, paid off. His next report card showed a marked improvement. There was even a    personal note of praise from his dean written on the report card.
    Proudly Stuart put the report card on his father's desk. Stuart felt happier than he had felt in a long time. He knew that his father could only be pleased with such a report, but more important, maybe now his father would realize that he was intelligent and would start paying some attention to him.

 Stuart could remember when his father used to go to ballgames and movies with him. Who knew? Maybe things would go back to the way they used to be. Stuart would offer to get a part-time job to help pay off some of the bills. He thought that might lessen some of the arguing at home and keep the family from breaking up. He would lat his father know that he was old enough to understand things weren't always easy at the office.

    When Stuart's father came home and saw the report, he said without any hesitation, "Well, well, who did the work for you? I know you don't have the brains to do it! "
    Stuart was stunned. All that work for nothing! He wouldn't be surprised if his father not only thought he was stupid but hated him, too.
    Stuart would not have been as hurt if he had only known his father was tied up in his own miserable feelings. This kept him from recognizing what Stuart had accomplished in school.

                             2. Uses of Criticism
    While some of us have a tendency to disbelieve or to minimize the good things people say about us, others among us have a tendency to hold a protective web around ourselves in defense against criticism. One workshop participant said, "I confuse the issue by getting logical in the face of threatening reactions. Sometimes I act helpless so others will stop the criticism. ?Early in the workshop experience he had received more negative than positive reactions. While he was fearful of criticism, he found that he had courted it, hoping that he could learn how to handle it and overcome his fear.

    We may court negative reactions for other reasons. A therapy group member regarded criticism as more useful than compliments, and criticism is what he often got-not because he asked for it directly, but because of his detached manner, as though he were sitting in judgment of others. Moreover, his tendency to qualify and hedge his opinions and feelings until they had no meaning often brought down the ire of others upon him. He gave the impression of accepting their displeasure stoically, as though it strengthened him. He never openly criticized other members, however.

    Still another member, who claimed that"criticism is the stuff that we grow on? gave others criticism galore so they could improve and, in his words, "not appear in a negative light in the future." This member came across as using his ostensible concern for the growth of others as an excuse to criticize and attack them.

             3. Is It Right to Withhold One's Reactions to Others?
    It is not uncommon for us to withhold our reactions to others. We may hold back compliments for fear of embarrassment to them and to ourselves. We may hold back criticism for fear of being disliked or considered unfair, or for fear of hurting another person. Reactions given inconsiderately may indeed hurt others. On the other hand, some of us are inclined to withhold our reactions from others while at the same time we honestly prefer that they not hold back theirs from us.

We may have two different rules. The first one may be: If we ask others for candid reactions to our behavior, to something we have done or plan to do, we want them to tell us straight, including the negative with the positive. The second rule may be: If someone else asks us for similar reactions, we are inclined to hold back or gloss over the negative and embroider the positive.

              4. Criticism Is a Kind of Demand on Those Criticized
    As children, many of us got a great deal of criticism and, as a result, learned a variety of patterns for coping with it. Marya had apparently received little criticism, but, knowing that she was not perfect and deserved what other children got, developed her own patterns of selfjudgment and censure. Being judged, whether we are underestimated or overestimated, usually implies a demand, subtle or direct, that we change. If others do not demand change, we may feel the need to demand it of ourselves.

     Reactions that are relatively free from attempts to change or discredit us, given by someone who cares for us, and with the intention of letting us know what impressions we are making, may be easier to take. If, however, our usual reaction is to defend ourselves, even mild criticism or impressions given gently without demands that we change may play havoc with our defensive structure and beccnne difficult to handle.

                            5. How to Handle Criticism
    The surgeon reached over and jerked the syringe out of the nurse,s hand. "Jane, that's the sloppiest injection I've ever seen!" he snapped. Quickly, his fingers found the vein she had been searching for. Cheeks burning, Jane turned away. ~Ten years later, Jane's voice still trembles when she relates the experience.
    Some of our male co-workers have it easier. They grew up encouraged
to play team sports, and they had to handle a coach's yells when they droppped the ball. Now they can see that a goof on the job is like dropping the ball in football; the fumble is embarrassing, but you take it in stride and go on.

    But for most women, the path to success was different. As girls, we grew up wanting to be popular; we were praised for what we were, not for what we did. So our reaction to criticism is often, "Someone doesn't like me. I failed to please. I'm a failure."
    "I get defensive," says Rhonda, a teacher, "When someone criticizes me, suddenly I'm a little girl again, being scolded, and I want to make excuses. I want to explain that it's not my fault-it's someone else's, or I want to hide and cry."

                            6. Take a Tactful Approach
    How about giving criticism? The old "I-want-to-be-liked" syndrome can make it as hard to give criticism as to take it. Karen thinks she's found the answer.
    "Two weeks after I was promoted to first-line supervisor," she remembers, "I had to tell a friend that she was in trouble for not turning in her weekly reports on time. My boss suggested that I tell Judy I didn't want to fix the blame-I just wanted to fix the problem. That was wonderful advice. It allowed me to state the problem objectively to Judy and she olfered the solution."

    Criticism in the workplace, whether you're giving it or getting it, is always more effective when you focus on the task rather than on the person. Fixing the problem, not thc?blame, means that nobody has to feel chewed out or chewed up. We can still feel whole and learn something in the process.