Wisdom Wednesday: Receiving and Giving Criticism

"If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry."  —African proverb

“If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.” —African proverb

Have you ever met someone who gets defensive and even angry when given any amount of criticism or suggestion, even if they asked for an opinion? Although unsolicited advice or negative criticisms are not always welcome, we do well to at least consider any feedback or counsel, especially if we ask for help.

“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair.” —Proverbs 29:1 NLT

“If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.” —African proverb

“He that will not be counseled cannot be helped.” —Irish proverb

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” —Proverbs 9:8

“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” —Proverbs 15:32

“Good medicine may taste bitter to the mouth; good advice may sound unpleasant to the ear.” —Japanese proverb

“Woe to him who heeds not the counsel of a good wife.” —Irish proverb

“You can tell a person’s level of maturity by the way they handle criticism and reproof.” —Chuck Swindoll

You can also tell a person’s level of maturity by the way they give criticism and respond when someone decides not to use the advice given.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but in my pride, I have gotten upset when someone asked for my counsel but didn’t use it.  I’m not perfect and realize I haven’t always given the best advice.

“The first degree of folly is to conceit oneself wise, the second to profess it, the third to despise counsel.” —Poor Richard aka Ben Franklin

Generally speaking, receiving criticism or advice is easier when it comes from someone respected and when we feel understood and loved. Sometimes criticism is constructive and mixed with praise, but sometimes it can be destructive if it is too harsh or not done with the right motive. I want to be someone who encourages and inspires others rather than someone who discourages and defeats.

“Sandwich every bit of criticism between two layers of praise.” —Mary Kay Ash

“In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people in various parts of the world, I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.” —Charles Schwab

“It is easier to criticize art than to create it.” —Spanish proverb


If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Seek Counsel or Wisdom Wednesday: Discipline and Raising Grownups

About Rene Yoshi

Just a transplanted Okinawan-French Southern girl with a wee bit o' Irish, sharing photography and what I'm learning about spiritual things, including putting off legalism and religious traditions, and embracing God's matchless love, tender mercy, and amazing grace! View all posts by Rene Yoshi

9 responses to “Wisdom Wednesday: Receiving and Giving Criticism

  • Tienny

    I am still learning 🙂


  • gwennonr

    Excellent post, Rene! Thank you for writing it.

    I loved all the quotes, but i especially enjoyed the one by Charles Schwab. That one dovetails beautifully with a book I am reading: “The Power of Blessing” by Kerry Kirkwood. Perhaps you will like it, too. : )

  • Randell Bell

    Criticism is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. There is constructive criticism meant to help or correct, and destructive criticism, which is meant to tear down, and humiliate. The problem is that even constructive criticism when given in a superior attitude can have the same effect as destructive criticism. One must take into consideration the heart of whom is giving the criticism, and the heart of the one receiving the criticism. There is also a time to criticize, and a time to hold our tongues. When a person is joyful over an accomplishment, and we can see ways for improvement, now is not necessarily a good time for even constructive criticism. If it is a job resume due today, perhaps, but if it will keep until tomorrow then perhaps another 24 hours would be better. Just my thoughts and not written in stone. Good Blog Rene and good to reflect on.

    • Rene Yoshi

      Timing is, indeed, crucial. Another thing you said reminds me of another quote by Elisabeth Eliot: “Lord, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it. Give me wisdom to keep silent when silence is wise. Remind me that not everything needs to be said, and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.”

      Thank you, Randell! 🙂

  • gjoelfranco

    What a crappy post! :)))
    I am kidding naturally! But this post is so relevant to my field it is amazing how many people take it personally! As a producer I have to tell people sometimes what they are doing is not what we are looking for, and a lot of people freak out! It is so important to be able to accept criticisms almost as much as compliments.

    • Rene Yoshi

      [laughing] Whew! I’m glad you were kidding. Yes, we sometimes take things too personally and get defensive, instead of considering what is being said. Thank you again, gjoelfranco! 🙂

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