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The Choice is Yours

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Nov 2016 12:00 AM GMT

By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee

I wonder if you have realized how difficult it is to say, “Sorry, I

have made mistake”. Yet those words, uttered with sincerity could have

averted many heartaches and unpleasantness. Most people never admit to

being in the wrong about anything. They are self–satisfied and arrogant

people, who seem to think that acknowledging a mistake is an admission

of weakness…and it might lower their dignity. But I believe that it is a

very wrong idea. In actual fact it needs a very strong character to

admit that he or she is in the wrong. I suppose, all of us, more or

less, have this tiresome trait—and only a few lucky ones are free from

the defect. Perhaps the best way to deal with this small, but trying

defect is with humour. We have to accept the fact that people do not

like to be put in the wrong. It is our ture to find wrong in others,

but never in ourselves. We like to think that we are never in the wrong.

This complacent illusion stays with some people till the end of life.

We usually do not find fault in ourselves, but some people are

adamant in their views, even if they are not right. It would be nice to

think that we could reform that person, who thinks that he is never

wrong, by producing some undeniable evidence to show that he or she is

not right. But unfortutely this course of action leads to harsh words

and sulks, which is not at all desirable, since it leads to much

unhappiness and misery. Any attempt to point out that someone’s

insistence on his or her superior judgment on every occasion is due to

insecurity and lack of self–confidence, would almost always fall on

infertile ground. They would sternly protest against such a suggestion

that they have ever felt insecurity or lack of self–confidence.

There is this gentleman, who is very charming man—but he does tend to

adopt a rather lofty attitude most of the time. He will never admit to

being in the wrong. If anybody points out this defect in his character,

he sulks for days together. He never likes to admit his mistakes and

blames his wife for everything. For instance, the paper he mislaid was

entrusted to his wife’s care, the faults of his children were due to his

wife’s negligence—the shirt he bought did not look nice—and of course

she should have prevented him from buying it. In this way he goes on

putting blame after blame on her gullible head. Whenever anything goes

wrong, it is somehow her fault. When the couple were first married, the

lady did not realize that her husband was not one to admit his mistake

and say ‘sorry. She did not like to be blamed for faults she had never

made. So whenever she was blamed unreasobly, she used to stand her

ground and argue back—but found that it always led to an ‘atmosphere’.

It caused nothing but unhappiness to her and her husband was not one to

make any conciliatory move towards the peace process.

The lady is not one to wallow in self–pity and hates to see sulks and

unhappiness in her household. So now she takes a different line, and

graciously “accepts” any mistake as her doing. Whenever he blames her

for something she had not done, she just says apologetically to her

husband, “you are quite right—how silly of me”.

Only those who know her really well can detect the secret smile

lurking in her eyes when she accepts the mistakes of her husband as her

own. They might also notice the look of slight discomfiture on her

husband’s look. Apparently he feels embarrassed, when he finds that his

blameless wife has taken over the unjust accusation hurled at her,

without protest. When I asked her why she always takes that line, she

said, “well—for a start, it does not cost me anything to accept his

mistakes as my own. It prevents those trivial arguments too. And I must

say that he tends to do it a lot less these days than he used to.”

Well, she is right of course and must be very wise to adopt that

line. It can be seen that these same people, who would not admit to

being in the wrong, also find it hard to take criticism. They do not

realize that refusing to accept criticism may be their loss, as it may

benefit them immensely.

Very few of us really are able to take criticism in our stride. But

we do face criticism every day—whether at home or at work. Usually

people feel mortified when they are roughly criticized. But it is no

good getting “hot under the collar”, feeling that they have been abused

or wrongly judged or, worse still, that the critics are envious and are

“out to get them”, I think that we should learn to take criticism in a

reasobly way. If somebody criticizes us, we should calmly listen to

what he has to say, and think about it. We may well find some truth in

it, which will help us to correct some faults and make an even bigger

success in consequence, in our chosen field.

But we have to be a bit cautious in making any criticism, taking into

view the temperament of the person concerned. Take for instance, this

friend who came to my place the other day. As a rule, she is a very

good–tured and simple person. But that day she was obviously annoyed. I

asked her if something had happened to make her lose her temper. She

fumed that somebody had dared to say that her newest hairstyle did not

suit her. Then she turned to me and asked for my views on her latest

hairstyle. I hesitated and looked at her hairstyle. It looked like a

birds nest and really did not suit her. But I could not say that—could

I? Then she said roughly, “you are my true friend. Give me your honest

opinion. I don’t want any sugar–coating. Thank you”. I thought that it

was my duty as a friend to tell the truth, so that she could alter her

hair style. Fool that I was, I gave her my honest opinion—and the lady

has not come to see me since that day. So I think that we should

consider a number of times before making any criticism. The best amongst

us have this allergy towards any kind of criticism.

There are two kinds of criticism—destructive and constructive. A

destructive critic is always motivated by some unworthy impulse such

kind of criticism is malicious and is meant to hurt the person

concerned. It does not benefit anybody—rather it creates ill–felling and

is harmful. We may reject such kind of spiteful criticism without

rancour. These kinds of criticism merely express the jealousy of the

critic. But if we allow our hackles to rise each time we hear a word of

condemtion, we may miss out on what a constructive critic has to

say—and that would be a great pity—since listening carefully to a

constructive critic may be very rewarding. As a friend of mine, who

happens to be a writer, told me that her husband is her severest and

best critic—because she knows that when he criticizes for something she

has done, he has always her best interest in his heart. He actually

wants her to rectify her mistakes and shine in her chosen field. Hence

she accepts her husband’s criticism with gratitude. But most of us are

not so nice like her—and we usually can’t take criticism, however mild

it may be. Slightest criticism spoils our day and destroys our mental

equilibrium. We consider the critic as our foe, though he may, in actual

fact, be a well–wisher. Somerset Moughm was perfectly right when he

wrote, “People ask you for criticism, but they want only praise”. At the

same time we must also be very careful in criticizing others. As

Moliere said, “One should look long and carefully at oneself before one

considers judging others”.

We must ask ourselves whether we like to be criticized before

levelling criticism at others. But criticism in the true sense is really

necessary for our welfare. To improve our activities and to correct

ourselves, it is very necessary to listen to criticism by persons whom

we can trust. We must not consider ourselves to be above criticism like

“Caesar’s wife”. Rather we should cultivate the art of listening to

criticism calmly in every aspect of our life and correct ourselves

accordingly. In the long run it will be very beneficial to us.

Some of us cannot imagine that our children can be in the wrong—the

fault can never be theirs. We believe that they have been led astray by

their friends. That is the opinion of most of the parents towards their

children. But this attitude may be immensely damaging to our children,

as they would get indirect encouragement from their own parents in

pursuing the wrong path. Hence if the teacher points out the faults of

our children, we should not take umbrage and dismiss it without a second

thought. Nor should we get annoyed with our neighbour for informing us

about the faults of our children. At least we should ponder over the

matter to find out if there is any truth in the criticism and act

accordingly. turally our right action at the right time will benefit

our children. One should take note if the boss calls him to task over

something he has or has not done. I think that he should not reject it

out of hand, but should look at the situation from the point of view of

the boss. If people tell us that they are right and we are wrong, we

should listen to their argument first, because then we would be in a

stronger position to maintain the rightness of our own. We are more

likely to get our opinion across, if instead of trying to bludgeon our

way through, we refute reason with stronger reason. Only then we may be

able to justify our action and the boss may be convinced, if he is a

reasoble man.

In fact, criticism is indispensable for better performance. Of course

a critic also should be impartial and reasoble, when he criticizes

somebody. Criticism must not be guided by jealousy or malice, or it will

defeat the very purpose of criticism. Under no circumstances, we should

block our ears to criticism—rather we should listen to it and make use

of it in the best possible way. There might be something in it, which

can make us better persons. If we don’t take criticism in the right

spirit, people would be hesitant to criticize, in case it leads to

unpleasantness. That would be a great pity—and we would be the losers.

So let us open ourselves to criticism, which is constructive and

healthy, and we should be also very reasoble, while criticizing

others. We should cultivate the habit of acknowledging our mistakes, and

saying ‘sorry’ if we realize that we were in the wrong. These are the

simple things which bring a lot of happiness to our lives. You may do it

or you may not. The choice is entirely yours, dear reader.

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