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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

The Lost Art of Criticism

The Lost Art of Criticism

How often do you look up people’s opinions and reviews about movies before you watch them? In this day and age, it’s so easy for everyone to write out their opinion on something and post it on the internet. So in the case of movies, pretty much anyone can be a ‘movie critic’.

But a lot of these people openly criticize newly released movies without real concrete reasons to back up their points of view. Most of the time, people only see things from a personal perspective and their own feelings about it rather than forming different perspectives and providing a critical structure towards the film. Criticism is an art but an art that’s getting lost in a sea of personal opinions.

Roger Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism is a prestigious award presented since 1970 to critics who have demonstrated ‘distinguished criticism’. Ebert won due to his “relative, not absolute” critical approach to films.

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    In other words, when he reviewed a film, he did it from the point of view of its prospective audience as well as the film’s value as a whole.

    The Damage of Biased Opinions

    We all have opinions and like to express them and the internet makes it much easier for more people to voice their strong points of view. There are many people who are more informed or knowledgable than others but this isn’t a ticket to being right with their opinions. It’s still subjective criticism if it isn’t done in a professional and trained way therefore bias rears its head in most cases resulting in a limiting, single perspective.

      Bias is natural for us and hard to rein in. In neurological terms, the brain has limited information processing capacity.[1] This means we actually believe we know more than we actually do and we have a tendency to embrace only information that supports our own belief and so “confirmation bias” is formed. This allows many of us to enter a state of assumption or relying on common ‘facts’ to back up our belief without seeking disconfirming evidence. It’s in this state that we create the “I’m right and you’re wrong” way of thinking.

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        While people giving out their idea of criticism may seem harmless, the danger of this is the general dismissal and lack of credibility within a critical review. The main point of constructive, unbiased criticism in anything is to create an improvement but if we don’t know the true art of delivering criticism, the people receiving the criticism can easily dismiss it and not use it to build on improving.

          What Exactly is Good Criticism?

          The basis of good criticism is positive intention. This means it’s presented as a form of communication with the intent of understanding others or helping others to improve in a positive direction.

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          Anyone who puts their creative work out there should be open to ways of improvement and growth. Good, constructive criticism is in place to allow the creator to gain more perspective and help them to make their next set of choices.

          Valued criticism should also be objective and come from a space of taking in different perspectives. This means being able to recognise that there isn’t one universal opinion but recognising there are many possible and valuable points of view to take into consideration.

          Fully understanding the intention of what you’re forming a critical eye about is key to sensible criticism. Measuring how good or bad something is requires knowledge about the true intent behind what the creator is trying to get across.

          Lastly, respecting other points of view is essential. Good criticism never comes from a standard perspective but takes into account different ways of seeing something and acknowledging other approaches of thinking than your own.

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            A Guide to Good Criticism: Giving It Out and Taking It

            The ability to be a good critic will add to the world because you can really create improvement and growth. Taking criticism can be hard, but if you do this with an open mind and in a constructive way, you can really add value to your own growth and direction.

            Giving Criticism

            1. Make sure you fully understand the intentions and goals behind what you’re looking at.
            2. Be mindful of your personal opinion and realise that it doesn’t determine the quality of something.
            3. Avoid focusing on only the flaws and be sure to pay the same amount of attention to the good qualities. This creates an important element of motivation and encouragement for the one being criticised.

            Taking Criticism

            1. Listen and be as open as possible to what’s being said. It’s important to get as many perspectives as possible in order to gain a fuller picture and identify growth.
            2. Ask clarifying questions with the intention of fully understanding what they are communicating to you. It’s very easy to shut off and make judgements about their opinion if you feel it’s wrong. Make sure you’re clear about what they mean and then process what they’re saying.
            3. Ask for suggestions for improvement but stay true to your original goals. Don’t change entire areas just to keep someone else happy but keep them aligned with your initial outlook and intention.
            4. Be in control by choosing someone who you know has the ability to give good and constructive criticism. This doesn’t mean someone who you know will have a biased towards you but someone who is honest and wants the best for you in terms of growth and improvement.

            Next time you give an opinion, read someone else’s opinion or take criticism, be mindful of the perspective it’s coming from. Ask yourself if your or their opinion is bias, fuelled by emotion or a limited perspective. Take into account more than one perspective and understand what the true intentions of what you’re seeing is trying to convey. Taking criticism can be hard but make sure it’s coming from an honest source and be open to improvements for positive growth.

            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

            Reference

            [1]ScienceDirect: Trends in Cognitive Sciences

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            Anna Chui

            Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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            Last Updated on January 18, 2019

            7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

            7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

            Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

            But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

            If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

            1. Limit the time you spend with them.

            First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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            In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

            Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

            2. Speak up for yourself.

            Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

            3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

            This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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            But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

            4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

            Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

            This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

            Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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            5. Change the subject.

            When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

            Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

            6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

            Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

            I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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            You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

            Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

            7. Leave them behind.

            Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

            If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

            That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

            You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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