Sunday, January 23, 2005

You Talk So Much What About You?

Why is it people are so fond of asking the above question when we choose to give some critique or give an opinion that is considered negative? For example, I could say to a friend who is busy looking for something he has misplaced in his messy office; “If you were more organized, you would probably encounter less difficulty locating your stuff…”, to which he will reply, “You talk so much (or, you think you are so smart) what about you?” referring to my equally messy office.

The question is, what in the world has this got to do with me??? I was merely stating an opinion or making an observation. If you think it is not valid, then the opinion or observation should be challenged on its own merits or otherwise. To throw my statement or opinion back at me smacks of defensiveness at best and petty revenge at worst. In the example above, so what if I am even more messy and disorganized? It still does not reduce the accuracy of my observations of my friend’s predicament.

There is the old saying that one should be able to take what one dishes out. Well, to me that statement arises out of ones emotions and frustrations. I believe that if one really makes an effort to remove the emotion from such situations, we would be better placed to develop and learn from others as a general rule.

To illustrate further, if a football coach were to criticize (constructively) a particular footballer’s ability, it is unlikely that the footballer concerned would pass aspersions on the coach’s own footballing ability. A good coach may not be a very good footballer but that does not detract from his ability to make observations of footballers. In the same way, if I am not an organised person, that does not mean I am unable to make observations of others who lack organizational skills. My powers of observation and assessment and my powers of organisation are separate issues. They are distinct qualities!

I think the main problem is, people usually have difficulty accepting criticism. Their pride dictates that they should defend themselves when under attack and they do this by attacking the perceived attacker. It is also natural that people tend to respond better when led by example. If people could only learn to respond to criticism by considering the possibility that the observer is correct… Naah, that would be too much to ask…

I am indeed losing faith in people’s ability to think logically and objectively. People’s emotions cloud so many issues… indeed, it could be argued that my own deteriorating faith in people is an emotional response to the very issue I have raised! Oh crap, I have just become a victim of my own diatribe…! That’s enough for today then.


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