There we were munching at our separate pies. Mine was Salmon with Dill and hers was Chicken with herbs. As is our custom, sometime during the course we swapped plates so we could both experience different flavours. There was a mumbling noise from the head beside me. I turned to look at her, and with her mouth now free of encumbrance she repeated, “It needs more salt”. I hadn’t noticed any problem with the salt level, but that’s the pleasure of us both eating the same dish. Discussing the different responses.
Admirably the Pie seemed unmoved by the criticism and submitted to its fate with dignified stoicism . People are not quite the same when we suggest some slight adjustment might move them nearer perfection. Bye and large any criticism should be laced with large helpings of affection and goodwill to make it palatable, otherwise it gets the bristling, “look whose talking” approach which leads to stalemate
Some time ago I introduced a newish friend of mine to some old friends. conversation was as skirting as normal, with both expressing standard levels of interest in the other’s careers, hobbies etc.. “This is going to be a bit tough” I thought, but then someone said that I looked a bit smarter than normal. “He’s always so scruffy” said oldest friend”. “Have you seen his blue sweater with the frayed sleeve” chipped in new friend, and his shoes !” Suddenly they were off exploring the jungle of my limitations together and bonding over shared insights into my dress sense. I began to feel a bit like that Salmon Pie and decided I would leave them to it and go and buy a round of drinks. By the time I had returned they were both laughing and bonding with each other with pleasing speed. We often admire qualities in our friends but it’s their frailties that bring out the affection.
Many of us strive to improve or perfect ourselves. However I can pretty much say I have never knowingly been improved by any criticism I have received,and it must be said I have received a fairly generous helping of it. More often its subliminal role is to improve the morale of the critic rather than help the subject. No problem with that: always willing to give a helping hand. In the main, although quite possibly more beneficial, encouragement is a rarer beast. Given over a period of time it can make a real difference to its subject. Wouldn’t it be nice if we gave each other more.