Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This is a tough one. I’m a constant work in progress in this area. For the most part it comes from a place of caring and love, but it must be done properly. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled has been my guide. And more importantly, my Mom. But since she hasn't written a book I can't quote her here. Lucky for me, she has been my best real-life example of how to approach this issue gently and sensitively.
First of all we must look at our own motivation in giving advice or criticism. It’s not acceptable to do so out of anger or the feeling of moral superiority. The former is usually incorrect or over-stated and the later has the potential of being arrogant. Neither approach will bring desired results.
One must come from a loving place. After careful thought about the worth of the wisdom we want to impart it’s good practice to ask if the person is open to it. If they are not open, it’s better left for the moment or perhaps forever.
I found it very interesting that Dr. Peck basically says and I am paraphrasing here…To confront someone you care about is to assume a position of moral or intellectual superiority, at least as far as the issue at hand is concerned. It is the reality of life that at times one person does know better than the other. Thus, we are thrust into a dilemma, caught between loving respect for the others' own path in life and a responsibility to exercise leadership when a person you care for appears to be in need of such leadership.
Scott Peck even goes so far as to say; "It is one’s responsibility in a loving relationship to confront when it is required. The failure to do so is equal to thoughtlessness and active deprivation of caring."
I look for this leadership from my family and friends….people that I trust to have my best interests at heart. Often my choice of friends is based on their ability to impart their wisdom through caring advice and criticism. I look to them for their perspective, observations and advice. When it’s done properly I listen, consider and decide if it fits for me. I may also discard it or keep it for later. But I know it was well meant and I value it.
If not for the advice and criticism I was given over a lifetime I cannot imagine what my life would be like today. Volumes could be written about this subject and I’ve only scratched the surface. Maybe I've given us a little something to consider before we go tell our kids that their rooms are a mess and they’re filthy slobs or blow up and tell our mates they are selfish and insensitive to our needs.
Good luck…I know I need it.
Let's remember "Soft as a snowfall".
This is a great opportunity to ask my readers for their advice and/or criticism. It means caring to me...when it's like a snowfall...but I can also accept hail stones the size of golf balls. I would love your input. Leave a comment. Thanks in advance.
I can't leave without sharing this quote I discovered as I searched for the quote for the beginning of this blog. It is so pertinent to our lives today. Love it!
"Wall Street is the only place that people ride in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway."