How to criticise without incurring low level violence
Just as the fat needs to be trimmed from the meat, so too we all need to be trimmed to be at our best. Yes we can choose to eat whatever we like, exercise not at all, and go to seed, as it were, but life will tend to be mean to us if we do.
Padre Pio, an Italian monk who was recently nominated for sainthood, used to recommend to his students to not preach. Strange advice from a preacher! But yes, he realized that people are very averse to any kind of criticism. And anyone who’s ever made an attempt at helping others will attest to that fact. A friend of mine keeps telling me that the only ones in the world who like a change are babies with wet diapers. True, all true.
I used to teach parenting skills and was always impressed by who it was that came to these courses. Usually it was only those with a real immediate need. Only when some major item in the house was deeply disturbing, would parents be willing to consider changing something they were doing, trying different methods, looking at options.
First of all, when thinking of criticizing others, hesitate. Don’t do it, if at all possible. Secondly, look at your motivation, examine what in you makes you so upset about this behaviour. Correct that first. Thirdly, if you really feel this comes from a clean motive and would actually help the person, and that he/she can take it. … then we’re in a different ballgame.
Never blurt out what you want to say. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking hesitation is a good thing, when you’re about to alter someone’s life.
Write out what you want to say. Review it, think on it.
Remember any criticism has to be done in a spirit of love and helpfulness and compassion. Be as kind as you possibly can. And finally look at the territory of your relationship. For every criticism a person receives, he/she needs to be affirmed twenty times in order to maintain equilibrium. If the person is in an emotionally deficit position already, maybe even the most just criticism, presented in the most loving way, can be destructive, hurtful and damaging