I am fed up with negativity (I recognise the irony of this statement). All of us have the capacity to be negative (unless you are a proton) but for some reason we humans seem to focus on negatives and ignore positives. I was having a conversation with someone yesterday who remarked that we need 10 positive comments to outweigh one negative one. I am not sure about the ratio but there is some truth in there: we seem to give more weight to negative comments than positive ones.
And, sadly, we humans can be quicker to offer negative comments than we are to offer positive ones. When we offer criticism it requires less thought to make a negative statement than to offer constructive criticism. This is probably why a lot of criticism is thought-less – we don’t think about the impact on the person receiving it we just want to make our statement and feel self-righteous.
Negativity can become a downward spiral too. One negative comment about us can lead us to think negatively about ourselves and others and then make negative comments about others and so on.
So, instead, what if we all resolved to do what Paul wrote to one of the early churches: “Encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)? Can you imagine the difference it would make to other people if instead of negative comments they received encouragement and we built them up? Imagine the newspaper headlines if editors had that attitude!!
Who will you encourage today? Who will you build up? (And if someone does that for you, thank them and receive it).
Be blessed, be a blessing
Last night I went to another meeting of the Mid Essex Magical Society (available to enhance a charity event near you – so long as it’s in Essex). Once a month we hold a Feedback Night. This is not where we try to see how close we can get a microphone to a loudspeaker before getting the loud screeching noise, It’s an opportunity for some of the magicians to perform a routine and receive constructive criticism from the rest of the club. It might be a relatively polished routine that we are looking to enhance or a work in progress where we would appreciate some advice.
Bearing in mind that MEMS is full of brilliant magicians, many of whom are members of the Magic Circle and have years of experience, you would have thought that performing in front of them would be quite scary. In fact it is something that I really appreciate because of the intent, tone and content of the feedback that I receive. The feedback is offered (admittedly because it has been invited by virtue of performing on Feedback Night) in a constructive way: “Have you thought about…”; “I noticed that…”; “You could try…” What is offered is not critical in the negative sense but it is thoughtful and considered, providing the performer with the opportunity to draw on years of experience, ideas, wisdom and skill.
Last night I performed a routine that I used in a service on the previous Sunday morning because after the service I reflected on what I’ve done and came up with an alternative way of performing the trick. I decided to run it past MEMS for their reflection. The feedback I received was very helpful and has given me food for thought (which is actually a pun if you know the routine I performed (actually it’s a pun whether or not you know the routine but you won’t recognise it as a pun unless you know the routine)).
How often do we invite feedback from others? I think most of the time we run away from it because we are afraid of negative criticism. But if we can learn to offer positive, constructive feedback that is designed to enhance and improve and is offered with grace and consideration of how it will be received then I think it is more likely to be welcomed (even better if it is invited rather than offered!).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we read these words: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” That’s certainly what happens at MEMS. I hope you get that experience too.
Be blessed, be a blessing