Is there a difference between criticizing and critiquing? Absolutely.
Criticizers express disapproval and point out their perceptions of our flaws and mistakes. Someone who offers critique is contributing their careful opinions with the intent of helping.
Two years ago, I blogged about coming under fire from an online group of widows: “There were a few [in a closed group] who appeared to be angry and jealous in not understanding your positive attitude,” wrote the blog site administrator, trying to be a peacemaker.
The online conversation included this, among other unkind words: “I am annoyed by someone telling their story — which is fine — and then asking questions of the reader as if they are counseling them with their questions to think about. I don’t come here to be preached at.”
If grief is a natural and healthy response, then certainly those grieving need to take all the time they need to do it well.
But at some point, should widows in an online group—instead of complaining in private about other contributors to the site—perhaps set aside their collective negativism and make choices to live forward? Does writing private criticisms contribute to the well-being of everyone in the group, or does it encourage further negativism?
If I write about the things that helped me deal with sorrow—like, counting what remains rather than focusing on the losses, or doing things to make me braver—then don’t criticize me for wanting to share what’s worked. Because I’m an encourager by nature.
But critique … now that’s a different animal. Critique is a gift.
At my request, a friend recently critiqued a book I’m working on. She took a few days to read (and re-read) it and then offered valuable input from her perspective.
After tweaking my work, I asked a retired teacher who had taught writing to middle school students to take a stab at it. And although I warned him there would be run-on sentences and incomplete sentences and too many adjectives, he bravely agreed and made some suggested corrections with an analytical eye toward sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation.
Talk about priceless gifts — these two friends. Contributors.
There was little worth in the criticism from the online widow group. But I value all the writing critique I’ve ever received—value it—because everyone who offered critique did so with the intent of improving my writing and helping me eventually get published.
This thought from Brené Brown:
At the end of my life I want to be able to say I contributed more than I criticized.
My sentiments exactly.
Which begs the question (although the online group of widows would find fault with my asking): Has there been a time in which you received some excellent critique, and it made you more successful in life? I’d love to hear about it.
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