GIVING CRITICISM

Hello everyone,

It’s been a little while since I took the time to be a “normal” blog and give those little updates on life that have literally no impact on the world whatsoever (don’t worry, more creative work will be back tomorrow). Which is why I am not going to talk about how I finished all my graduate school applications recently, how stressful it’s been, etc, etc, etc (wait but that’s what you just did Cassady…). Instead, I wanted to talk about something that has not happened to me before. Someone who had been reading my blog asked me for advice. Now, obviously I am a busy person—we all are. But I took the time to check out a bit of their work and give them constructive criticism. Which I like to think I am decent at giving, and I know a lot of people who are not very good at it. So I wanted to discuss it.

One of my good friends is a person who doesn’t know how to give criticism. He will  say things like “that’s bad” or “I don’t like how this looks at all.” And that’s fine if a person is secure with their work, but let’s be honest, how many of us really feel completely secure with our work? Especially when we are just starting off? Probably not that many of us. I know that I, personally, was exceptionally afraid to show people any of my writing when I first began doing it, and even before that, I was afraid to write because I felt like I myself would be doing a bad job. If someone had criticized me like my friend does right away, there’s a good chance I would not have gone forward with my writing.

Certainly, this is “my fault.” No individual should stop someone from achieving his or her dreams. But that’s not reality. Humans value other opinions—it’s the reason we ask people for advice on relationship, even if they have a terrible track record in them. It’s true that the only way to improve is to get criticism, but when we criticize it can be done in a better way. One way I like to do this is through a “compliment sandwich.” Going back to my original scenario, this blogger asked me to take a look at their work in the comments of one of my posts. That takes some guts, but they sounded rather shy about it. So I took a look, and I found a few things. First of all, they had a great basis for their work. Their concepts were really personal and relatable, which is a solid bedrock for writing. That said, they looked like they had rushed through their writing. Which we all do. I do it. Professionals do it. It’s not a big deal. That’s why people hire editors. But it did take away from their overall message, and they need to correct it to make their work as good as they envision it to be. So I pointed out the positives, then the negatives, to reinforce that they were doing good work but that it needed improvement, and then finished up with a reminder of those positives. Not excessively-if that is done, then the person isn’t going to take the criticism seriously. But this does allow for a friendly way to express the needed improvement. If someone, especially a stranger (or an acquaintance that isn’t very close), asks for advice, it means they value the opinion of the person they are asking, and to shoot them down will only cause self-doubt. It makes the matter more personal than it really is.

What do you think? This approach can vary in impact depending on the context of the discussion. Check out this article for some areas where this technique doesn’t work. Do you have any techniques you use to give constructive criticism? Let me know!

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LOVE POEM #21 – LUST (LOOK IN THE MIRROR)

See the look in her eyes,

Like a fire in the skies,

Burning through house and home.

It’s like a mirror of my own.

 

And see the curl of her hair

That makes her suitors stare;

Making married men groan.

It’s like a mirror of my own.

 

And see the shape of her body

As she crawls up on me,

Aching not to be alone.

It’s like a mirror of my own.

 

And see the biting of her lips

As she rocks upon my hips,

Calling out a primeval moan.

It’s like a mirror of my own.

 

But then see her walk away.

I’d hoped that she would stay;

Think of the seeds we’d sown.

This broken mirror is now my own

——

 

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LOVE POEM #18 – CHRISTMAS WISH

“Merry Christmas one and all”

Echoed the television down the hall.

All the children were filled with cheer

Yet I just wished to have you here.

I just wanted to hold your hand,

Give you the flower that I’d planned

As your gift for this Christmas Day.

But now it begins to wither away.

The once vibrant petals begin to wilt,

And in my heart I feel the guilt

Of a kind man who had been too quiet.

To afraid to cause a riot.

 
Because to you I am just a friend,

Just another reliable bookend.

And it makes me bite my tongue

Out of fear that we will be undone;

That our friendship will be submerged

If I tell you those little words.

 
So please, Saint Nick, grant me this:

The courage to ask her for a kiss.

The courage to be something new.

And the courage to tell her “I love you.”

MR. STEAL YOUR GIRL

Hello everyone,

 

I just scrolled through Facebook to find something silly to inspire me, and I found a friend’s post about hating women who steal men. So it must be a sign that I need to talk about relationships more. Or, it’s all a coincidence and any connections between the two are fabrications of my mind in order to justify something my subconscious needs to discuss more. Either way, here we are. So lets do it. Let’s talk about stealing partners, and more importantly, lets talk about how this is a falsified rhetoric to defend a person we care about.

When someone steals another person’s partner, they aren’t really stealing. I mean, certainly, it may be the best descriptive word to express the feelings that it inflicts on a person when their partner decides to leave them for someone else, but it isn’t stealing. Simply put, this is because stealing implies that whomever was “stolen” was an object of that person’s possession. That person is not an object, and, barring rape, it takes the decision of two people to have sex.

That being said, I don’t want to say I am advocating for men and women to cheat on each other. We’ve hashed and rehashed that conversation a few times, and it hurts quite a bit to be cheated on. Cheaters often feel guilty for cheating because they know how much it will hurt the other person. That being said, we can’t control the actions of people outside ourselves, so the reality is that we can’t really stop our partners from cheating. I mean, certainly, we can show them attention, and be available for them so that they don’t end up cheating on us for reasons related to feeling neglected, but even doing that doesn’t necessarily prevent them feeling inadequate.

Even less likely is our ability to control those we are not in a relationship with. The common person. They are the real wild card. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s quite possible for a random person to walk up to our partner—or ourselves, and kiss us out of the blue in front of our significant other. Completely out of our control. Should we be punished for that? I guess that depends on our reaction, but assuming we respond in a normal way—you know, freaking out because why is some random person coming up and kissing us—it seems unfair to react this way.

But lets assume someone succeeds in “stealing” our partner. Why do we blame the person who “stole” them, and not our partner? I mean, it was our partner’s decision. Personally, I think we blame them because we care about our partner. Most people who have cheated are not bad people. We like to paint them that way in order to cope with our own internal desperation and pains, but they aren’t. They just made a different choice, which was unfavorable to us. Which, for many people, is hard to accept, because they (typically) have a lot of good memories with that person, in which that person probably showed them a lot of love. So the idea that they would do a complete 180 and do something so hurtful seems impossible. In which case, we project these negative thoughts on the person who they went with. Which to me seems stupid. They were just acting in their own interests. I think you should hold whoever was your partner accountable.

Then again, maybe you should hold yourself accountable. Who knows? Relationships are complicated and often there is more going on than meets the eye. What do you think? Are there situations where you should blame the other person? Let me know!

LOVE POEM #1 – REJECTION

Today I spent some time

Thinking about a girl over wine.

She’s like a warm summer breeze

With beauty to bring me to my knees.

 

She likes her hair a deep dark red

And I can’t get her out of my head.

So I’ll think and sit and write and chat

Just to know where we’re at.

 
And it sucks because she’s my sunshine;

My evergreen girl with a smile so fine,

And I’m just another wood tile on the floor.

Something that she’s unlikely to ever adore.