When is criticism effective?

Yesterday the grandchildren came to tea. Polishing off his peach and pear crumble Zak announced, ‘This is one of the best two crumbles you’ve ever made, Granny.’

‘So it’s only second best?’

‘No. It could be the best, but you have made other great crumbles…’ Clever.

It reminded me of a few weeks ago. After our meal, Rachel said, ‘This isn’t the worst dinner I’ve cooked.’ I mused on what the right answer was. ‘This is the worst,’ was clearly wrong. ‘No this isn’t the worst,’ could lead to ‘So there was a worst?’ No win.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend. ‘Barbara (sister) isn’t speaking to me. I decided to be honest with her and send her a message about how hard I was finding it with her being so overbearing and controlling and it completely backfired. She has said she is totally stepping back and leaving me… to it. She will never forgive me and doesn’t want to see me or talk to me for the foreseeable…’ Sad.

In the last couple of days we have seen political confrontation and criticism. In Westminster Boris and Rishi have been challenged and criticized regarding their handling of Covid and the financial support businesses are receiving. Last night there was the US ‘debate’ between Donald and Joe… There must be a better way

Musing on the beginning of 2Corinthians 2 this morning…

  • Confrontation: Paul didn’t avoid confronting his friends in Corinth.
  • Criticism: He pointed out the details of their faults.
  • Correction/construction: He wanted positive change: that wrong would become right, bad become good.
  • Confidence: Paul expresses confidence in them; they needed confidence in his judgements.
  • Care/compassion: Paul’s motivation was not to hurt but to heal; not to make them look bad and him look good. He loved them.

Musing that effective criticism involves these 5 components…

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