I am often asked what is like to run a nanny and domestic agency, with all the complexities of human relationships and interpersonal/family dynamics. Here is my immediate response: It is a privilege and joy to serve families, children, and caregivers. There is not a single day that passes that I don’t receive gratitude from those I serve. It’s people that make my work pure joy.
This is not to say that my work has yielded a continual stream of hugs, kisses, flowers, and applause. I have also felt the sharp sting of critique. Some of the criticism has been true, many of it was false, and some was outright malicious.
As a parent, it’s important my children look to me as an example and role model on handling criticism, effectively. When teaching a child to handle criticism effectively it’s critical they learn to differentiate between constructive and destruction criticism. So, what really is the difference?
Constructive criticism: The process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work or actions of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a collaborative manner rather than an oppositional one. This kind of criticism is often a valuable tool in raising standards. Like it or not, if someone provides constructive criticism you will most likely recognize truth in their words. This kind of feedback provides tangible examples and includes an action plan for improvement. It leads to growth and improvement.
Destructive criticism: On the other hand, destructive or toxic criticism is typically delivered in a harsh words, using broad unspecific terms or generalizations, is demoralizing, and quite possibly done in a public place where their are plenty of listening ears. The intention is to harm someone. To derogate or destroy someone, their work, their reputation and self esteem. To navigate the waters of unhealthy criticism you must learn to make a detour and walk away.
They key to navigating criticism is to figure out which are helpful, and steer clear of those that aren’t. This lesson holds true whether your 5 or 85.
According to Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. The fact is the matter is that if you are committed to doing anything in life worthwhile you will face criticism.
Here are a few great quotes on criticism:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them. Unknown
The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews. William Faulkner
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. Dale Carnegie
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical. Unknown
I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism. Charles Schwab
Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting. Emmet Fox
Founder and President, Cambridge Nanny Group