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The Decorum of Criticizing Others
Social Issues
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Criticizing others can prove destructive for them. It can also be very constructive and can achieve the required goal if a certain decorum and etiquette is followed. Five things are important in this regard:

1. Every criticism should begin with acknowledgement of the good traits in the person we intend to criticize. It will engender confidence and make us stand among the well-wishers of that person.

2. Criticism should be directly communicated to the person we intend to criticize instead of talking to others. Such indirect comments may hurt that person’s feelings when it becomes known and also create unnecessary gossip

3. Criticism should not be based on hearsay and unfounded information. It should be based on well-investigated facts and concrete data.

4. It is inappropriate to criticize a person for a mistake at the very time he is making it. This often creates a reaction in a person and also does not allow him the opportunity to calmly reflect on the substance of the critique.

5. Over-criticism or repetitive criticism should be abstained from. More often than not it proves counter-productive to the very objective we have in mind.

6. Criticism should not be couched in harsh words and foul language. The most substantive criticism loses its impact if it is not conveyed in a polite manner. People shy away from callous words.

7. The timing of criticism is very important. We must find opportune moments – moments when a person’s heart is inclined and his mind is receptive to critiques.


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