Constructive Criticism

निंदक नियरे राखिये, आँगन कुटी छवाय,

बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय।

AV.B = 1

The first is a chaupai by Kabir and the second is the feedback condition for an oscillator (where AV is the amplifier gain and B is the feedback).

Now you must be thinking that what Kabir is doing with an electronics equation. Are they related? Yes, if you look closely, both are pointing towards the same direction.

The oscillator equation says that feedback helps in sustained oscillations. If we have to put in a very simple manner, it says that the output becomes better with feedback. Now, what Kabir is saying? He says that we must keep the critic near to us. The critic helps us to become better.

Criticism is always positive. It depends on the criticized person to decide its constructive or destructive nature. As a thumb rule, most of us love to criticize others and never want to be criticized. Some criticize in front of the victim. Others do it behind their back. This second type is more popularly known as gossip. All of us in one time or the other have resorted to either of the methods.

The second method gives a relayed message to the victim. And as is it true with all relayed messages, information is always lost in translation. The criticism that we get in this manner has always the inputs of the messenger. And it is sometimes difficult to extract the original unmodulated criticism from the modulated message that we receive. It is better not to engage ourselves with gossips. And neither would I in this piece.

But the first type of criticism must be taken seriously. In a face to face discussion not only we listen to the words of the criticizer but also see their body language. Words can be deceptive sometimes but eyes never speak lies. The question is what to do if someone criticizes us on our face. We can resort to a blame game and start pointing out the fallacies of the criticizer. This way we can easily absolve us. But I believe that this is not the correct way. We must remember that there is never smoke without fire. Or we can put it as Einstein said, “nothing is absolute, everything is relative”. So, what we find to be correct may not be correct always. I once read a very beautiful line,

“In every argument, there is my side, your side and the correct side”

Criticism may not always be correct but the positive way is to accept it and do an unbiased introspection of our acts that prompted the criticism in the first place. A relook will always give us different scenarios where the objective can be achieved by avoiding the unwanted. Incorporation of the feedback positively will always result in sustained, constructive and beautiful results. If we fail to do this, it can only be termed as haughtiness on our part. And haughtiness has never yielded constructive results.

So, if we want to become better persons it is wise to follow Kabir.

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