How do you offer a critique?
"Corrective Criticism" might just be one of the biggest self-deceptive-oxymorons of our times. I'm not saying giving advice, offering correction, or voicing your opinion/dissatisfaction is ever out of line, but, the term "corrective criticism" itself is a contradictory statement. Criticism tears down; Biblically we offer advice to build the other person up.
When you know that there's a need to tell another person they have room for improvement, how do you tell them? is an important question!
As you contemplate this question, here's a checklist I've put together, for your consideration:
- What is your tone of voice when you address others?
- Is it crystal clear from your language how deeply you love the other person? "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ..." (Eph 4:15)
- What does your body language convey about your attitude?
- Do you walk away knowing that the other person felt like you really had their best interest at heart, or are they left brokenhearted?
- After you leave will the other person miss you, looking forward to when they can see you again, or are they happy you are gone?
- Are people drawn to you by your words, or driven away?
- Have you balanced out your negative comments with several positive affirmations of how much you value the other person?
- Does the other person open up to you or do they cringe and squirm more often than not?
- What reputation are you developing among your brethren as a result of how-and-how often you criticize others?
(Prov 22:1 "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.")
What most people seem to forget is that there's a difference between a complaint and a criticism.
Complaints are healthy ways we verbalize a problem, on the other hand, a criticism is an attack on another's character...
It is legitimate to have a complaint, the way you handle it is what makes it healthy or unhealthy.
We have a Biblical command to handle ourselves, and our words properly, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Col 4:6)
Let me get to the point: Criticism is not a spiritual gift and being critical is not being spiritual.
When we talk to each other as Christians, remember Jesus promised when two or three gathered in His name, He is in our midst. So, when we talk to each other, Jesus is there listening to the conversation. I wonder how we'd temper our tone if we thought about His opinion more often???