When you point with your finger, remember that three other fingers point at you.
- Arab proverb

There are several wise and decisive rules in the art of criticism, which I would like to share with you:

1 The critic must claim his critism. It accomplishes nothing to make anonymous accusations.

2. Critism should be made in private, behind closed doors and in a calm place.
There is nothing more counter-productive than to criticize somebody in front of others.

3. Begin by praising the qualities that you find in that person before coming to criticize them.

4. Speak of one's own errors before mentioning the errors of the other person.

5. One should never criticize by making comparisons with other people.
The worse thing than we can say to somebody is that they "understand like a Fulanito*",
since the criticized person will feel so badly that he will no longer listen to what we are saying
(in addition that he will hate the fulanito).

6 It is necessary to say the negative things in a clear, calm and slowed down form, so that there is no doubt that the other person
understands the conversation clearly.
If the message is altered in the understanding, most probably the wound will be enlarged instead of curing it.

7 Let us criticize the facts, not the person. Never criticise with a tone of authority, but with a tone that looks to learn something with the other person together.

8 The critic must be specific, objective and nonexaggerated. It is necessary to avoid the words "always" and "never". Nobody is mistaken "always".

9 Encourage the other person, making them feel that their errors are easy to correct.

10.. Criticize only a single thing at once. If suddenly we let loose all the resentments kept during past months, what we will obtain is more argument, and not a resolution.

11.. Allow all along a way for the other person to saves his/her own prestige (allow a way to save face), giving the other person all they need
the opportunity to protest or to explain their conduct.

12.. Before criticizing, put yourself in the place of the criticized one.
As it says in the old proverb: "I cannot judge brother without first having spent a month in his shoes."
We judged with a facility that it frightens. If we knew how and why ways have been arrived at the error that we criticized,
ninety and nine of one hundred times we would shut up ourselves.

- Gently,
Claudia Rigo (Argentina)


*The word "Fulanito" means, roughly, "Little John Doe" in Spanish slang (equivalent to ""Joe Schmo") . The roots of the word lie in West Africa, where Spaniards kidnapped men and women to be brought to Spanish colonies in the New World. Among the people brought to the Spanish Caribbean were those of the Fulani nation, known in Africa as great merchants. They brought their skills of commerce with them, and eventually it was known in the Caribbean that if you wanted something done, you went to the Fulani, or business guy.


Cuando apuntes con el dedo, recuerda que los otros tres dedos te señalan a ti.
Proverbio árabe

Hay varias reglas sabias y decisivas en el arte de criticar, que quiero compartir con ustedes:

1.. La crítica hay que hacerla cara a cara. No hay nada más bajo que la acusación anónima.

2.. La crítica se debe hacer en privado, a puerta cerrada y en un lugar tranquilo. No hay nada más contraproducente que criticar a alguien frente a los demás.

3.. Empiece elogiando las cualidades que encuentra en esa persona antes de proceder a criticarla.

4.. Hable de sus propios errores antes de mencionar los del otro.

5.. Nunca se debe criticar haciendo comparaciones con otras personas. Lo peor que le podemos decir a alguien es "aprende de fulanito", ya que la persona criticada se sentirá tan mal que ya no escuchará lo que decimos (además de que odiará a fulanito).

6.. Hay que decir las cosas negativas en una forma clara, tranquila y pausada, para que no haya duda de que la otra persona comprende la conversación claramente. Si uno de los dos está alterado, lo más probable es que agrandemos la herida en lugar de curarla.

7.. Critiquemos los hechos, no a la persona. Nunca con el tono de quien da una cátedra, sino como alguien que busca aprender algo conjuntamente con el otro.

8.. La crítica debe ser específica, objetiva y no exagerada. Es necesario evitar las palabras "siempre" y "nunca". Nadie se equivoca "siempre".

9.. Aliente a la persona, haciéndole sentir que sus errores son fáciles de corregir.

10.. Critique una sola cosa a la vez. Si de pronto soltamos todos los rencores guardados durante meses, lo que conseguiremos es discutir y no curar.

11.. Permita que la persona salve su propio prestigio, dándole todo el tiempo que necesite para protestar o explicar su conducta.

12.. Antes de criticar, pongámonos en el lugar del criticado. Como dice el proverbio: "No puedo juzgar a mi hermano sin antes haber calzado durante un mes sus zapatos". Juzgamos con una facilidad que espanta. Si supiéramos cómo y por qué caminos se ha llegado al error que criticamos, noventa y nueve de cien veces nos callaríamos.

Gentileza Claudia Rigo (Argentina)

- 2005 February

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