Critiquing is not for everybody

Never Judge Quote

I have been pondering for some time whether or not to start a blog. It has only taken me over 2 years to start one as I wasn’t convinced I’ll be able to add much value to any topic that hasn’t already been explored and shared on the World Wide Web where the content is most likely more accurate and entertaining to read.

Since activating my blog site late last week, I have been reviewing and analysing what my first post should be. My strategy document suggested a good place to start is perhaps the beginning, my beginning. An introduction piece, however over the Easter break that just passed, I have had the privilege to be engaged in a few conversations. One of them stood out and I really wanted to share immediately and perhaps reserve my formal introduction to a little later.

We have had a truly festive Easter break with many family outings and dining occasions throughout the 4 day holiday. On Easter Monday (two days ago), we (our little family) caught up with my sister and her boyfriend for a casual lunch at ‘The Kitchen at Weylandts‘ followed by take home desserts from ‘The Bakers Wife‘ where we played cards, sip on wines, watch the children play in the backyard and grazed over cheese and crackers. To top it off, the weather was divine and perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

In the background, we had playing on the television via YouTube ‘the best music videos of all time’. My sister’s boyfriend was very vocal with his critiques regarding today’s generation of music standards, their lack of sophistication, complexity and real talent.

My philosophy in life today is rather simple, “to enjoy and appreciate all and exercise your energy on praise rather then criticism” so his criticism stroke a cord with me and this is where our deep and meaningful discussion occurred regarding the differences between critiquing vs assessing. We analysed in detail their definitions and shared our personal views on why it’s beneficial to critique or just a waste of time and energy. After a couple of hours of intense debate, we agreed to disagree. We moved on, appreciated each other’s passionate and unique points of views.

This conversation was exciting to me for many reasons. I was able to learn a little more about my sister’s boyfriend, his constant need for information validation, his knowledge seeking methodology, that he is passionate and stubborn – both of these traits will help him fit right in with our family.  

I love a good discussion, always appreciate an educated debate to challenge the mind and evoke new thinkings. Some topics I am happy to spectate rather then participate if I don’t have a strong view or deep knowledge/understanding to add value and make the conversation meaningful.

I was equally passionate about this topic, it just happens that my view differs from my sister’s boyfriend. He encourages critiques, believes everyone should exercise it and verbalise often. I encourage assessment and evaluation of things and avoid critiquing where possible.

I agree that it is only human nature to pass judgment and voice our opinions on everything we see and do on a daily basis. I admit I’m no saint but I have learnt some time ago the value to avoid and filter my opinions with great consideration and diplomacy for the greater good.

I am not saying “don’t have an opinion or stand for something you’re passionate about”. What I am encouraging is to avoid voicing critiques without detailed knowledge of the topic and no action to support the claim.

I agree that on the surface, the difference between the two seems minute with each having some characteristics of the other but I would argue that there is enough differences between the two to make them different.

Assessment is generally based on a clearly articulated or published criteria, with a judgement of whether the outcome demonstrates with definition certain abilities where the result/s can be quantified.

Critique starts from appreciation of what one likes/dislikes, comfort levels coupled with a rationale. Critique is a descriptor linked to personal insights so the result is subjective.

I agree that everyone should question everything that presents, activate our ability to evaluate and make personal judgements whether something is good for us or not and only exercise criticism if it is absolutely necessary and to do so only after some detailed evaluation and with constructive and 360 consideration.