Alexander Foreman's page

Introduction

How can a man develop and maintain a sense of honour and inner goodness in a world of materialism, gratification, commercialisation, negative sensationalism, and a general attitude that individuals are not responsible for their own actions?

I discovered that I had a need in my life for a personal ideology to consolidate my moral beliefs and strive to shape myself into a truely worthwhile human being.

As a keen student of history I looked to the unique example of the medieval knights. Many of them were men who lived by a benevolant code of honour and devoted their lives to their cause no matter how difficult. In particular I looked at the Teutonic Knights who influenced my own heratige and the Knights Hospitaller with whom I have family ties. From their example I developed a personal code of honour adapted for today's lifestyle that I can look to for my own guidance.

Code of honour

1. I challenge myself to live my life worthy of this self-imposed code.


2. I am willing to sacrifice my personal ease, interests and safety when this code demands.

 

3. I passionately reject all pettiness, meanness and false drama.

 

 

4. My life’s cause:

  1. To actively enjoy and enrich my life;
  2. To strengthen, improve, learn and grow as a human being;
  3. To protect, nurture and empower my loved ones and the worthwhile;
  4. To disempower the evil and the vial; and
  5. To give service to benefit people and nature.

 

5. I give respect and show good grace to all, especially to the weak, foolish and vulnerable.

 

6. I shall pass judgement on no-one without just cause.

  1. No person is inferior to me or superior to me, they are simply different from me;
  2. A person's choices are theirs to make and I must support their freedom of will;
  3. If a person chooses vile action that brings ill into my life then they deserve judgement and consequence in abundance.

 

7. I shall only judge the vile act, not the person themselves.

  1. By judging the person by their act I rob them of their opportunity to improve and learn from the consequences.

 

8. If I wrong a person I owe them a humble public apology and a personal sacrifice.

 

9. I shall stand by my word always.

  1. The truth is my way, lies and deceit are beneath me;
  2. I am bound by my words and am always worthy of trust.

 

10. I shall stand by my family, friends and comrades in arms.

  1. I must back them up before those who would criticize or condemn;
  2. I must protect them from harm; and
  3. I must help them to empower themselves.

 

11. I shall stand up for myself.

  1. I do not deserve to be manipulated or decieved;
  2. I do not need to be physically harmed or emotionally abused;
  3. I do not exist for others to vent their frustrations on;
  4. I cannot punish and blame myself; because
  5. I must protect myself from harm to preserve my inner good.

 

12. I shall face the world head on.

  1. I fight for my life's cause, taking action and focusing on achieving the result;
  2. Fear and blame waste my time.


13. I shall stick to my guns.

  1. I will do what I know to be honourable;
  2. Bullshit and clever words will not stop me;
  3. I accept criticism of my actions, if I delay until I can act without fault then I will achieve nothing.

14. I wish to die having lived an honourable, honest and worthy life.

 

I don the armour of uncompromising strength
I take up my shield of virtue and truth
I draw the mighty weapons of wisdom and love
This is how I live with honour
 

The Gentleman

In my opinion, being a gentleman means:

  1. treating others, especially women, in a respectful manner; and
  2. not taking advantage or pushing others into doing things they choose not to do.

Total responsability

I believe that life is all about choice.

Everything that happens to me is a result of my choices. There are no excuses for failure. When things go wrong it is because I made poor choices. My only option is to learn so I don't make the same poor choice again.

Challenges, hardships, dangers and opportunities will present themselves throughout my life. It is my responsability to avoid or take advantage of them.

Constructive criticism

 

The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism

 

Hello reader. You are probably reading this because you have poor interpersonal skills. You always get people annoyed or angry with you because you don’t know how to criticise properly. You are no good at getting people to listen to you. Your problem is that you humiliate them with your selfish, blunt and honest criticism delivered without tact! Because you are so incompetent, you also bottle up your problems until you get really angry and start blaming or fighting with others. People like you have made my life hell and really piss me off!

 

Hmm... That opening paragraph was blunt and honest, but let’s try that again with some tact...

 

Hello reader. Well done on starting to read this article. It shows you have strength of character and a willingness to improve your interpersonal skills. I struggled for years to get along with others and only managed to do so after studying interpersonal skills such as this. I believe that you can get people listening to you by applying constructive criticism methods, instead of upsetting them with blunt and honest criticism delivered without tact. You have the power to change yourself – you are good enough and you are worth it!

 

OK – that paragraph said the same thing but sounded much more like constructive criticism!

 

Constructive criticism can be of immense use to improve relationships, behaviour and job performance.

 

Unfortunately criticising a spouse, child, friend or work colleague is a potentially dangerous act. Blunt and honest criticism delivered without tact can offend a person’s ego (self identity), even if your intentions are purely to help them. Once you have offended a person’s ego they are unlikely to listen to your criticism and may develop a negative opinion of you. This is destructive criticism (see opening paragraph). It does much more harm than good and can lead to a falling out if used too often.

 

Constructive criticism employs methods to protect the ego of the person you seek to criticise, enabling you to get the message across without humiliating them (see revised opening paragraph).

 

In this article I have summarised my knowledge and research on how and when to apply constructive criticism.

 


 

Uses of Constructive Criticism

 

Constructive criticism can be of great benefit. It can:

·         Prevent fights in a relationship by allowing problems to be addressed;

·         Make people aware of bad or inappropriate behaviour so they can modify it; and

·         Improve performance through the feedback of constructive criticism.

 

Note: Constructive criticism does not work on everyone. I have found that some people are more negatively motivated than positively motivated. Constructive criticism works very well on positively motivated people. Negatively motivated people require a more aggressive approach. Use common sense.

 

Principles

 

·         Be on their side

·         Use a polite and friendly tone of voice, and smile

·         Be humble

·         Only criticise important and fair things

·         Criticise them in private at an appropriate time

·         Do not criticise to vent irritation or anger

·         Plan your criticism

 

Methods

 

·         Sandwich your criticism between 2 constructive comments

·         Create a high expectation

·         Tell them you have made the same mistake yourself

·         Disguise criticism if possible

·         Make “I” statements instead of “You” statements

·         Focus on solutions, not blame

·         Praise and compliment the things that you want – especially if they don’t happen often enough

 

Be on their side

 

The key to constructive criticism is to always be on the other person’s side!

 

Take the attitude that you are their friend and you are helping them to improve themselves. You want them to feel good about themselves now and even better once they have improved their behaviour. You respect them and will do nothing to humiliate them.

 

This is a proven and effective way of getting people to listen to you without harming your relationship with them.

 

Use a polite and friendly tone of voice, and smile

 

A large portion of your message is communicated through tone of voice and expressions. There is no point in using the right words if your tone of voice or body language is aggressive.

 

Smile and be friendly to keep yourself on their side.

 

Be humble

 

Do not expect someone to jump when you tell them to. Changing a person’s point of view is difficult at best and you have no right to tell another person what to do (unless you are their boss or teacher).

 

If the person does not accept you criticism immediately then make sure you do not push the issue or get angry. They have the right to their own opinion.

 

Use assertion to let them know you think they are doing the wrong thing. Present them with logical evidence or information supporting your point of view. Try to seek an agreement to resolve the issue. Do not tell them what they should do. Make sure you don’t simply give in because they don’t agree with you. You are allowed to disagree with them as much as they are allowed to disagree with you. Mutually agreed solutions are best.

 

If resolution can’t be reached or you are not taken seriously then you may need to have a constructive argument.

 

Only criticise important and fair things

 

Dale Carnegie’s first principle of “How to win friends and influence people” is to “never criticise, condemn or complain”.

 

Criticism is a negative act that puts out bad karma and can be harmful to relationships. Criticism is a method employed by interrogators to force their victims to introvert, thereby making them easier to control. Criticism can be used as a form of domestic abuse. Criticising people makes you appear arrogant and nasty.

 

You must be careful about how much and what you criticise.

 

If you are training a student or teaching an apprentice then constructive criticism is very important and should be applied as much as is needed. On the other hand, treating your friend or spouse like they are your student is very disrespectful. You must not act like you are superior to them or know better than them if you want to have an equal relationship.

 

This (Australia) is a free country and people are entitled to exercise free will.

 

You have no right to tell anyone what to think or do unless it is your job. Make sure you only criticise important and fair things!

 

Criticise them in private at an appropriate time

 

Criticising a person in front of others can be very embarrassing and cause their ego to take over. Only deliver encouragement in front of others. Make sure you deliver your criticism in private to avoid humiliation.

 

Ensure you deliver your criticism to the person when they will be willing to hear it. It is pointless criticising someone who has just had an argument, is upset or is under stress. Chose a moment when they are in a reasonable state of mind so you can appeal to their reasonable mind. You can’t reason with an unreasonable person!

 

Do not criticise to vent irritation or anger

 

If you are irritated or angry with a person then it is important that you keep your mouth shut until you have calmed down. You cannot apply constructive criticism methods when you are irritated or angry.

 

Example of venting: “I hate the way you always make me answer the phone. You are so lazy!!!”

 

Venting strong emotion on a person should be reserved for when you have been deliberately miss-treated. It is not fair to vent on a person who has irritated or angered you unintentionally. Speaking to a person in anger will harm your relationship with them. Their ego is likely to take over and they will not be swayed to your point of view unless you can crush their dignity. Only vent on them if harming the relationship is your goal.

 

Remember:                                        Anger is your enemy!

 

It is important that you do tell them that they have irritated or angered you. Do not neglect your feelings or you will end up having a fight with them. Make a note of the problem and apply constructive criticism when you are ready.

 

Applying constructive criticism requires emotional maturity. Control your emotion so that you can solve the problem and move on.

 


Plan your criticism

 

If constructive criticism does not come naturally to you then I suggest you make a deliberate plan before you go ahead and deliver a criticism.

 

Note down the following on paper:

1.       A clear statement of what the criticism is that you wish to deliver – focus on the solution, not blame.

2.       Is it important and fair on the person?

3.       Are you just venting anger? If so you need to wait until the anger has subsided.

4.       When and where will you deliver the criticism?

5.       Note the method(s) you will use to keep you on their side.

6.       How will you encourage the new behaviour if they choose to adopt it?

 

By making a plan you are forced to consider the methods of applying constructive criticism. After repeated use the methods should become habit and you can do away with deliberate plans.

 

Method: Sandwich your criticism between 2 constructive comments

 

You need to get the person into a reasonable state of mind and keep them there while you deliver your criticism. If they get defensive at any time their ego will take over and you have failed. Open your criticism with sincere praise to get them into a good mood.

 

Once you have delivered your criticism, add another positive to ensure they walk away in a positive frame of mind.

 

Instead of: “Pick up after yourself please.”

Try: “I really appreciate the amount you do around the house. You are really a big help and if you can pick up after yourself like we agreed, I think you would be an even better husband.”

 

Instead of: “That comment was really insensitive!”

Try: “I know you love me very much and would never hurt me on purpose. I feel that what you just said was really insensitive because... I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. You are a wonderful husband.”

 

Method: Create a high expectation

 

Creating a high expectation motivates people to live up to the wonderful reputation you have given them. This method appeals directly to their ego and can be very effective at changing behaviour in someone who values your opinion of them.

 

Instead of: “Hang out the washing please.”

Try: “I am surprised that you didn’t hang out the washing. You usually do and it helps me so much.”

 


Instead of: “You need to finish that job off properly.”

Try: “What is going on here? It’s not like you to leave a job half finished! Just the other day we were talking about how good you are at getting thing done properly without being asked. I know you are better than this!”

 

Method: Tell them you have made the same mistake yourself

 

Admitting your own faults takes away your air of superiority that tends to aggravate the person’s ego. Admitting mistakes will soften the criticism and make the person more inclined to listen and even empathise with you.

 

Try lines like “I have made the same mistake myself” or “in your situation I would have done the same thing.”

 

Instead of: “You have really done a foolish thing here!”

Try: “I feel that you have really done a foolish thing here! I did this so many times to my friend John and I paid the price for it! Please don’t do it to me!”

 

Instead of: “You need to use a cleaning agent first, look at how messy it still is!”

Try: “When I learned how to clean I used to get so frustrated that things didn’t clean easily. Then Sally showed me how to use cleaning agents first and it made the mess much easier to clean <smile>.”

 

Method: Disguise criticism if possible

 

If you are clever you can use a situation to change a person’s behaviour instead of directly criticising them.

 

Try talking about the right way to do something to someone else within earshot of the person. Give lavish praise to someone who is doing the right thing, when the person can hear it and has seen what they have done.

 

Instead of: “Sally, it would be nice if you could clean up the dishes after dinner.”

Try (in front of Sally): “Thank you very much for helping to clean up the table John. I really appreciate it. In fact I might give you a special treat for helping me so well. Good job!”

 

Instead of: “Mike, you need to stop putting people down all the time.”

Try (in front of Mike): “I really respect people like you Frank. You never seem to have a bad thing to say about anyone. I wish more people were like you.” (Do not give Mike a meaningful look or he will get defensive).

 

You can also disguise a criticism as encouragement: “You did well John. With some more focus and direction in your script, I believe that you will be able to give a fantastic speech. You will be able to captivate people.”

 


Method: Make “I” statements instead of “You” statements

 

Try to avoid making a negative “You” comment such as “You have stuffed up” or “You are always making things harder”. Instead speak in terms of yourself such as “I feel that you have stuffed up” or “I feel like you are making things harder for me at the moment”.

 

Talk about yourself and your feelings and avoid making accusations or absolute statements that humiliate the person.

 

Instead of: “You are so selfish.”

Try: “I feel that you are being selfish at the moment.”

 

Instead of: “You need to do it with you left hand!”

Try: “I think it would work better if you tried your left hand. What do you think?”

 

Method: Focus on solutions, not blame

 

The only reason you are making a criticism is to achieve some sort of result. There is no point in criticising if no result can be achieved such as “You are too tall and I don’t like it!” Make sure you know what change you want in the person’s behaviour before you deliver your criticism.

 

If you don’t like a person’s behaviour then you should have a reasonable alternative in mind. If you have no alternative then ask the person for one.

 

Instead of: “Lucy, I don’t like the way you look at other men, you disgust me!”

Try: “Lucy, what can I do to make you pay more attention to me and less attention to other men? I really want you to find me sexy!”

 

Instead of: “Don’t wear the red shoes. You look like an idiot in those and I don’t want to be embarrassed tonight!”

Try: “I think the white shoes will make you look much cooler than the red ones. Everyone will be impressed if you wear those.”

 

Method: Praise and compliment the things that you want – especially if they don’t happen often enough

 

Once you criticism has been successfully delivered and the person has agreed with you and changed their behaviour, you must capitalise on your good work and encourage them to continue.

 

Praise and reward them for making the effort to meet your expectations. After all, they don’t have to make any effort at all.

 

Try: “I really appreciate the way you are picking up after yourself. I’m so grateful that I’ll take you out for a special dinner tonight.”

 

Try: “We were just talking about the good job you are doing. Max commented on how you never have a messy work station. Keep up the good work!”

 

Try: “You treat me with so much respect! You are the best friend ever!”

 

Abilities wither under criticism but blossom under praise.

 

Conclusion

 

Now we have covered the principles and methods to apply constructive criticism.

 

Apply these principles:

·         Be on their side

·         Use a polite and friendly tone of voice, and smile

·         Be humble

·         Only criticise important and fair things

·         Criticise them in private at an appropriate time

·         Do not criticise to vent irritation or anger

·         Plan your criticism

 

Apply these methods:

·         Sandwich your criticism between 2 constructive comments

·         Create a high expectation

·         Tell them you have made the same mistake yourself

·         Disguise criticism if possible

·         Make “I” statements instead of “You” statements

·         Focus on solutions, not blame

·         Praise and compliment the things that you want – especially if they don’t happen often enough

 

Now go and apply them so you stop pissing people off you idiot!

Oops, I meant...

 

I’m glad you have put the effort into reading this guide (this sentence is the first constructive comment).

These principles and methods helped me to develop my relationships with people on all levels (this sentence states my own mistakes, that I am not superior to you).

I believe that you can, by using these principles and methods, deliver constructive criticism that people will listen to (this sentence is the criticism of you that focuses on solution, not blame, it is disguised as praise and uses an “I” instead of “You” statement).

I’m sure you will succeed in your efforts to improve your interpersonal skills (this sentence is the second constructive comment and creates a high expectation).

 

Enjoy.

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