Thanksgiving 2014: Criticism and Appreciation

In a previous post I said Skill is the Sum of Small Details. Building on this, we can conclude that with more skill comes more details and in particular the awareness of more details: While cooking beef you now notice the color of the beef instead of relying purely on the clock set by the recipe.  While picking up a cup of water you notice not just the shape of the cup but the material and temperature and adjust the strength of your grip accordingly.  

For people who lack that level of detail in their skill, they don’t notice.  And because they don’t notice, they don’t optimize.  The beef is done cooking before the timer has gone off because the cook didn’t notice the detail that the stove heat was set to one level higher than last time.  Someone crushes the cup because he or she expected it to be ceramic and heavy but it was actually paper weak.

As you become more aware of details, your personal skills improve and your own life improve.  However, when it comes to interacting with others, now you have more data to judge others with, and we all know that it is all too easy to judge other people: it is one of the most fundamental human natures we have.  As a result when someone else is cooking beef and they aren’t paying attention to the color of the beef but you have the skill to, then you will notice them doing it wrong.  If someone’s paper cup looks like something from origami, you know they haven’t adjusted their grip properly.

When you see these things, you can be critical or you can be appreciative.  You did see a mistake being made, but you also see correct decisions being made: the heat was on for the beef and the timer was set to the right time according to the recipe, or the cup was right side up and wasn’t flipped and liquids weren’t spilled in the process.  Rather than using your skills and awareness of details to find things that are wrong and criticize, use your skills and awareness of details to find things that are right and appreciate.

Please be reasonable in your appreciative comments.  “Nice, the recipe for the beef you chose is good” is a good appreciative comment.  “Nice, your beef is better than nothing” is a very unreasonable appreciative comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!

One final thing to note: be aware of yourself and the impression you give others. If you are someone who always criticizes then people won’t like being around you. If you are someone who encourages people, appreciates their good qualities and make them want to show their good qualities more often, they will want to be around you and both your lives will be improved.

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