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A compliment for a criticism


March 28, 2012
Carrie Olson , The Daily Freeman Journal

I'm right, you're wrong - and I'm going to tell you why ... goody.

For Lent, instead of giving something up, I'm doing something a bit different. For every complaint or criticism I issue, I try to make up for it with a compliment. In all realities, what I'm really trying to do is rid myself of the griping and whining that creates a pretty unlikable character.

It's proven to be tough and quite the mental workout - but worthwhile.

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As long as I have been writing, criticisms constantly stream in, whether I like it or not. I should expect it and welcome some, but it's still pretty shocking to receive at times. Whether it's just a nasty letter telling me to go back to school and learn how to write, or a "helpful hint" from an individual, sometimes I wonder where proper decorum lies.

Maybe it's because I'm younger and people feel the need to educate me. Or it's a kick of joy for that person to find an error in my work and point it out. Whatever it may be, it can be aggravating.

And while I enjoy critiques as much as the next person, it is much easier to dish out than it's positive cousin, the compliment.

People may think they are doing a service by telling a person that their shoes don't match their outfit. Or by standing up to someone and ticking off their negative attributes. Once and awhile, it may turn the tides. Unfortunately, sometimes (or a lot of the time) it has the opposite effect.

A person may be down and out, and you don't even know it. Other items may weigh heavily on them and you have just added to that load.

Most of the time we don't even realize we do it - and that's a problem. I've made so many negative judgements about people that I don't even know - on how they act, what they have said or what they look like. It's just not right. Instead of coming off as smart and intelligent (as I had hoped), I just come off as a snobby unlikable know-it-all.

I have found myself upset about a person and release all my bitterness and pent-up anger against them to others. Complaint after complaint, it feels pretty good - I'll give it that. But it is so easy to continue and to repeat and continue. It has gotten to the point that when I meet new people, I make an earnest effort to not even start with that behavior, earning myself a do-over.

So in my quest to be nicer, I have found that not only giving more compliments makes the people around me smile, but myself as well. Now, when I'm on the verge of saying something negative, it's easier to let it backslide down my throat, never to be uttered.

Negativity is a cloud that doesn't shift but only grows. It's always nice to ease that overcast shadow from myself and others at any time.

Try it, it's pretty worth it.

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. - Dale Carnegie



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