Do not tag acceptance with criticism.

Why You Should Let Acceptance Simmer by Itself

Acceptance of others’ actions is best delivered in full. You may have witnessed being congratulated only to be the bearer of criticism soon-after. People like to couple criticism with words of positivity to make the criticism sting less. Without realizing that this method actually exaggerates their words of criticism, they hope their critical message is camouflaged by words of encouragement. Know that your words of positivity will have little impact if you follow them with criticisms too soon. Your audience will tend to focus on the negatives and ignore your words of encouragement even if those words ring true.

This article aims to motivate you to not couple your compliments with criticism. Allow your acceptance of others’ actions simmer by itself. Your positive messaging will hold power if you don’t deviously tag it with words of criticism. The words you utilize to deliver criticism will stick in the minds of your audience with prominence. As the pleasant words of your acceptance begin to unstick and fly with the wind, the coupled criticisms will be the only ones that remain.

Perfect Heat

The goal of delivering positive messaging to those who have performed well, is to encourage that type of performance going forward. Do not forget the goal behind your kindness. Propagate their positive behaviors, keep their improvement moving forward, and understand the vulnerability they show in their performance. If you opt to deliver positive reinforcement, then do it fully without any grey areas in your message.

With the goal of having your positive words stick, motivate, and encourage for as long as possible, let them simmer after you deliver them. As a metaphor, imagine frying a thick piece of steak on a searing pan. In the scenario of providing words of encouragement, your role is to control the heat the pan is exposed to. The cut they chose may not be perfect, it will lack seasoning, it will be ill prepared, but it will be too late mention those aspects once it is already on the pan.

Your words will set the heat at which their steak is cooked with. A steak does not need much to be prepared well, as long as it is cooked right. Set the heat just right in the minds of others, and allow their steak (performance) to simmer until perfection. Your words of encouragement should be as simple and effective as setting the perfect level of heat on a stove – quick, direct, clear, and helpful.

The Role of Criticism in Propelling Positive Performance

Is it a good idea to criticize the lack of seasoning in others’ performance? Should you mention that they’ve gone about it the wrong way? Should you mention that they are ill-prepared, lacking practice, and executed ineffectively?

Criticism motivates well when it is delivered well. Coupling criticism with praise however, is better left unattempted. Encouragement will muddy the message contained within the criticism, and criticizing will blur the encouraging messages that you send.People are predictable in their reaction to encouraging words. They will generally accept them with a smile, and allow them to propel their levels of motivation.

Criticism however, requires practice to accept. It is a two-step process which relies on your listener learning to accept criticism prior to you delivering it. It is for this reason why predicting reactions to criticism is difficult. Criticism is vulnerable in how it is interpreted, and can ruin the message behind your encouraging words. You can mention that their steak needs more seasoning and that it should have the fat cut off. However, their unpracticed attempts at executing on those criticisms can damage, rather than benefit, the result.

If you choose to deliver words of encouragement, stick to the safe bet of doing so without attaching criticism, and practice doing it well. You can become good enough to never need to resort to criticism. It will take patience, and it will take thought. Keep your words of affirmation short, clear, but effective. Have the goal of encouraging positive behavior in mind and set the boundaries of interpretation by excluding things that can be interpreted in a negative way.

Book Recommendation: 

The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User’s Manual

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