Thursday, January 15, 2015

Constructive Criticism vs Verbal Abuse (With Rough Transcript)

Update: Why are so many people reading this article? It's terribly written and probably not good at getting the point across. To better summarize: If you want to constructively criticize someone, refrain from intentional hostility and otherwise attempt to be as diplomatic as possible. While the criticized may not respond with appropriate discourse, you can show ample maturity through your own civility.

The following consists of a new series that attempts to be educational. In this case, I try to teach of the difference between constructive criticism and verbal abuse. On another note, I'm not too good at editing, but hopefully that'll change as I make more of these.


Hello there everyone! While my videos involving me talking have consistently largely of rambling, which I'm kind of enjoying, I thought I'd try something different this time around.

If you take a glance at my recent uploads (or on the playlist), you'll notice my videos talking about things are rather long. While there is some semblance of organization and a point is made, I drawl on for quite a long time. I also don't do a lot in the way of teaching you all, the viewers about the concepts I'm discussing, mostly making brief side notes so what I talk about isn't completely lost to the viewer. With that in mind, I will be making a series of videos erring on a brief, informative style.

This video will cover what I hopefully think is the center of the major issue I covered in my hour-long rant which devolves into something of a crusade against toxicity and the types of toxicity there are: the importance of understanding constructive criticism versus verbal abuse (or perhaps even negativity in general).

In my opinion, this is a very important topic to cover because I find that the perception between the two is very poor, with people often confusing constructive criticism with verbal abuse or vice versa or one believes there is no difference or, worst of all, one simply does not care.

So what is constructive criticism? Constructive criticism (ideally) is the act of providing some sort of informative feedback that the criticized individual can improve from.

Verbal abuse, while technically a form of criticism, is a poor method of offering critique often because it implies a hostile behavior, but more importantly, because it lacks any form of evaluation that the abused can improve from, hence the differentiation of terms.

For the sake of showing the difference, here's a practical example. In this example, person A calls person B an "idiot," saying nothing else. This is a pretty clear-cut case of verbal abuse since he or she is simply saying the other person is stupid without any additional reasoning, which is a personal attack. Unfortunately, it is also rather common.

Let's assume person A now says "you're an idiot because you're literally typing (or saying) a bunch of undecipherable gibberish and otherwise showing a lack of intelligence, such as..." This isn't all that much better since it shows some hostility by opening up with attacking Person B's character directly, but it at least offers reasoning after. It's an improvement and probably falls somewhere between the two concepts I presented earlier, but one could do better, right?

In this last example, person A says "I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble understanding what you're trying to say and, in addition..." This statement, while still directed as Person B, tries not to be hostile. While it's likely impossible to remove all traces of hostility from a statement, it at least doesn't seem like a personal attack because it describe's Person B's behavior and not Person B themselves. The criticism doesn't necessarily have to be as eloquent as the example I presented above, but as long as there's an attempt to be civil as opposed to hurtful, it should be okay.

However, while people may need to better understand how to offer constructive critique, it is also important to understand the differences when receiving feedback as well. It is understandable that in the moment, someone might get upset at perfectly fine criticism due to an automatic psychological response of feeling like they're under fire. It is similar to lashing out with insults and abuse and if this happens occasionally, it's fair to say that's within the realm of human nature. In addition, misunderstandings can happen due to issues with precision of language or interpreting what someone is trying to say, which is also an understandable occurrence.

Some people, however, get needlessly offended a lot more often, which can lead to a misinterpretation of how overly sensitive people have gotten, which in turn can lead to the confusion that verbal abuse and constructive criticism are essentially the same for many. On the part of those individuals, however, it means that they have trouble accepting criticism and improving, meaning they are unable to make meaningful changes to their behavior or line of thinking and enter an endless cycle of receiving constructive criticism, believing they are under attack and ignoring it, and staunchly refusing to change all the more. When this issue becomes apparent, it's better to back down and rethink one's approach before trying again since arguing the point might exacerbate the situation further.

The point is it's very important to know the difference between constructive criticism and verbal abuse, which my example hopefully helped to show. There are a number of other resources out there that help define the differences, such as on Wikipedia (which in itself has a number of citations that may prove useful). Also, while the nature of my channel means that I'm pretty much directing this at gaming communities, which are notorious for having misconceptions about what constructive criticism and verbal abuse really are (not to mention some people really just don't care, like I said before), this understanding applies to other situations, such as in real life.

Thank you for watching. I'm not sure which topic to cover for the next video but I'll think of something.

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