Compliments Numb You, Criticism Helps You Improve

Compliments Numb You, Criticism Helps You Improve

Last update: 05 July, 2017

It is as difficult to take criticism as it is to receive praise. In fact, there are people who feel very uncomfortable when they get compliments. We have been taught to have very high standards. This means we must do everything right and are not supposed to expect any rewards for it.

On top of that, it is very dangerous that praise and criticism has so much power over our self-esteem. Because, this means we are placing it at other people’s feet. When we receive compliments, the message of admiration can be so confusing. Stimulating our self-love that much can make us “drunk”. On the other hand, when we receive destructive criticism, what happens is the complete opposite. There is a morbid tendency towards discrediting and blaming ourselves.

Keep in mind, you can win or lose with any task. The important part is the nobility of the resources used. What is truly fundamental is the dignity we have while we move along our paths. While we are searching for our objectives. Accepting constructive criticism from our environment helps us adapt better to diverse situations. On the other hand, praises can make us weak by making us reduce our effort.

two hands one screaming one listening

Criticism is inevitable

Judgments are part of the thought process of every human being. In our culture, we are used to paying more attention to negative aspects than to the positive ones. We see the defects and problems more easily than the good qualities and opportunities.

Everyone responds to criticism in a different way. We think this depends on whether it’s constructive or destructive criticism. Yet, it turns out, it doesn’t work exactly like that. Even the same criticism given by two different individuals can produce different responses. They can cause completely opposing emotions within the same person.

Sometimes, the way we take criticism does not depend on what is being said to us, but what we think about it. No matter the criticism itself or who made it, the difference resides in who is taking it. We are the ones who decide the importance of a piece of criticism and how to interpret it. We are also the ones who give value to the gestures, words and the person who made it.

shutting out criticism

“Make your critiques in good time; do not get into the bad habit of criticizing only after the event is done.”
-Mao Tse Tung-

How to take advantage of praise?

When we’re giving someone a compliment, it’s important to praise the activity or behavior but not the individual. This way, praises will not make that person fall into the trap of vanity. The way we compliment a person can affect their way of thinking. At the same time, it also affects their tendency to accept challenges, persevere and achieve academic success. There are two particular mentalities: stationary and evolving.

On the other hand, if we are the ones who are receiving the compliment, let’s think that the praise has a positive component. Remember that compliments reinforce a job well done, which means we are on the right path. Some authors say we live to be acknowledged, and we cannot deny that this seems to be true for certain people. For some people praise can be the foundation of pride. In excess, pride distorts the reality of our environment and the value of actions that take place within it.

How can I give a constructive compliment?

In order to reinforce someone with a compliment, the best thing you can do is to formulate it around concrete facts and results. Generalities like “You are doing fine” or “You are so smart” are of little use. It is better to say “I like the way you took care of that concrete problem” or “You did a nice work achieving the assigned objective, even though you did not like the task you were assigned to do”.


one man spewing likes at another

In the same way that pointing out only negative aspects creates frustration, pointing out only the positive creates comfort. But the problem with most of us is that we prefer to be ruined with compliments than to be saved by criticism.

“It is a great virtue of the serene man to hear all the criticism against him, correct what is true and not be upset by what is a lie.”
-J.W. von Goethe-