By Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim)
Growing up, we have been taught that it is rude to criticize people. That it is not polite and that we should treat people nicely. A saying that is constantly repeated in most cultures and in different languages, “treat people as you wish to be treated.”
This makes a lot of sense to a lot of people. What goes around comes around and respect is one of the most important elements in maintaining social relationships and connections.
Some might argue that not criticizing or not being expected to criticize might be a way of oppressing the freedom of expression; this used to be what I thought at first. Not being very critical and questioning slows down progress and development. All of these points are true, but where is the line drawn in criticism?
As humans, we tend to analyze and want to criticize if we see something that we do not agree with. A lot of people might not like that, especially in social or political issues; they feel that their lines are being crossed. Sometimes we even want to criticize our superiors in our workplace or professors in university but it would be considered disrespectful, so many of us refrain from doing that.
John Sexton, President of New York University, has been teaching his students a very interesting concept: Healthy Disrespect of Authority.
How can disrespect of authority be healthy? How can we disrespect it, in the first place, and not get into trouble?
Even though criticizing and disrespecting are two different words, but they are very much alike in terms of the outcomes of these actions; they upset people.
Criticizing and disrespecting people, or an authority, can be achieved in the friendliest ways starting with taking out the negative tone and the judgment.
Dr. Abdelkhaleq Abdulla, is a professor of Political sciences in the United Arab Emirates University and he has been analyzing and criticizing political issues in the region.
Some might say that his analysis and criticism is disrespectful of authority but it is in fact a healthy one. His language is polite and professional, he knows what he is saying, and he does not only state the issues but actually proposes solutions for them.
This is also called constructive criticism, criticizing for the sake of improving the content of work or a person’s behavior. The key to this skill is not to attack a person and to use the appropriate language. Ben Yoskovitz, a blogger, blogged that the best way to provide constructive criticism is by planning, building the person up, providing clear criticism, then building the person up again.
So why do not we criticize in a friendly- none harmful-way? As Frank A. Clark once said, “criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
21st Issue – December 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration – Community Talk – Food For Thought
Interview – Just Another Undergrad – Sense and Sustainability – Society of Tomorrow
The First Years Last Forever – The Mind’s Eye – Too Blunt For Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
After graduating with a Bachelor degree in International Studies and a minor in converged media, Fatma still finds herself hungry for knowledge, which led to her enrolling in a postgraduate program. Her passion for both reading and writing has made her extend her stay in Sail eMagazine so that she can learn & develop her skills. When not buried in her books and novels, Fatma is found on tennis courts or in a classroom learning a new language.
She wrote her previous column: “Just another undergrad” hoping she can give what she didn’t have when she was a freshman: comfort and guidance, and also bring back memories to all those graduates out there. She wonders if things are going to be the same after graduation.
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