When I was a teenager, I criticized a girlfriend about her appearance. She didn't talk to me for a few days. I won her friendship back with a sincere apology and a stack full of guilt. That may have been one of the biggest social mistakes I have ever made. However, I’m glad I learned this lesson as a naive 14-year-old. I have never made this mistake since, and neither will you.
Criticism can destroy your prospective relationships.
When we want to make happy, healthy relationships, criticism in any shape or size won't help. Most of us were taught in grade school to follow the golden rule, “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” This still stands true today. If this is true, why do we continue to violate this rule?
We criticize people for one of two reasons:
1) We want others to realize and reach their potential. We think we’re motivating other people, but we’re actually not.
2) We lack a quality or skill ourselves, so we highlight these as faults in other people. This is known as transference.
As human beings, we want to be liked by other people. When you receive positive reinforcement for a behavior, you tend to repeat that behavior over and over again. On the contrary, you tend to avoid specific behaviors when you receive negative reinforcement. If you hear something negative about yourself, will you want to be around the person who criticized you? Probably not. You want to surround yourself with people who say how talented, amazing, kick-ass and beautiful you are.
It’s easy to criticize others without knowing, and it can demoralize those we care about most. Sometimes it’s all we know. We have parents, siblings, teachers, bosses, law enforcement, and (worst of all) the voice in our heads constantly criticize us. These criticisms are not always true. In fact, they’re usually false.
We need to throw criticism in the trash and adopt new forms of communication.
Strong relationships are created and sustained when we communicate with love, compassion, and integrity. Relationships are made because we enjoy people’s character, personality, and values. The next time you text or call your friend, tell them how amazing and beautiful they are. You'll never sacrifice loosing her friendship ever again.