Continuing on from my earlier blogs on “Criticising Criticism”:
When I notice someone being criticised I often think to myself, “is that criticism helpful?” I consider whether anything was needed to be said at all and, if so, whether what was said or done was achieved in a helpful way – meaning without side effects such as the criticised person feeling blamed, shamed or humiliated in the process (damage to the relationship being worthy of consideration and ideally a priority factor in deciding how we behave). I also note the tone and potential background meaning of the words and actions used; appreciating that when we feel attacked or otherwise stressed we shut down parts of our pre-frontal cortex that help us to think clearly, we go into survival mode, and being willing and able to change something we’ve been doing is made far more difficult. The criticism needs also to be effective and for that to occur we need to be really clear about what we are really suggesting that the person do or change – what actually is the issue? Is it something that they can change or a mess they could clean up? So often we have the best intentions for guiding someone else’s behaviour but it still comes out wrong due to not recognising or focussing on the real issue. Other times, of course, we’re just plain fed up with someone or circumstances and out it blurts!
The next tricky part, I find, is working out whether it is helpful for me to then make comment on the criticism; to either point out that, “really, was it such a big deal that it needed to be criticised?” or else, “what’s another way you could get that message across?” To be honest, mostly I skip that part of care-filled consideration and jump straight to the criticism of the criticism, filled far less with care and far more with the very blame, shame or humiliation that I felt the need to comment on in the first place! Hmmmm. No pause, just straight in for the kill. It sounds like I’ll do well to focus on that aspect first. PAUSE before intervening with my (well-meaning though perhaps prematurely formed) two-cents worth, intending to generate PEACE.
I’ll be back soon to further discuss how the PAUSE practice has worked out…