Membership free. Eligibility: you just need to be supremely irritating.
Press 1 if you criticise less than three things a day. Press 2 if you spend more than four hours a day finding faults in others. Press 3 if people around you have already started avoiding you. Press my throat if all that you ever do is find faults. Because I would want to do that to myself anyway after meeting you. Seriously, yaar. It is very, very difficult to cope with people who are such experts at finding faults that they can give you a complex even when you may have just conquered the world. No matter what you do to try and be perfect, they will always find something to make you feel worthless.
But today, I’m not telling you how to cope with such people, because we have discussed that, in detail, previously in this column. Today, I want to talk to the fault-finders and try to look at life from their eyes. The truth is that in most cases, such people don’t criticise knowingly. They have no sinister motive to hurt you. They just can’t help but point out flaws. The other day, I was at a friend’s place when I met her cousin. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy, till the time his mouth was shut. At some point into the evening, he opened it…and unleashed a flurry of criticism. About every.damn.thing. Right from the sugar in the tea to the sad state of roads in the city. I realised that he didn’t even notice he was coming across as being so negative. Because in his eyes, all that he was saying made perfect sense. Pretty soon, those around him began rolling their eyes and making faces. That’s when I realised that a much bigger stress than dealing with a permanent critic, is to be a fault-finder and not know it. People around you begin to avoid you, and you don’t even know what caused it. Isn’t that a terrible situation to be in?
Here’s what you need to think about, if you’ve ever been called a chronic fault-finder by friends or family:
1 Ask yourself if you are only pointing out a fault or also suggesting a solution
Because if you are not doing the latter, I’m sorry, but you are quite a loser. Believe me, it is the simplest thing in the world to point out a flaw. In what can only be a stroke of God’s sadistic sense of humour, we’ve all been gifted an uncanny ability to notice errors and flaws over any effort that may have gone into creating something. We grow up on activity books that ask us to point the ‘odd one’ out or mark what’s missing in a drawing. So, when it comes to situations in practical life, pointing out a shortcoming comes easiest to us. But, unless you’ve said or done something that will help the situation and make it better, your criticism stands meaningless and will only add negativity to your relations with the person you are criticising. For instance, when someone makes a presentation of an idea or a project, be it in a college or a corporate office, there are always some in the audience who are simply waiting to rip it apart by pointing out the shortcomings. If you are one such person, make it a rule in life to always follow up the criticism of something with what you think could have been better in its place. If you don’t want to make the effort of suggesting a solution, you don’t have a right to crib about a problem. Period.
2 Don’t be a teacher 24x7
A lot of us, including those who are teachers by profession, have completely forgotten the distinction between encouragement and evaluation. We are forever preaching. We jump straight into the adviser mode, without bothering to appreciate someone’s effort. The other day, I visited a colleague’s home when his 6-year-old son showed me a drawing that he had done. Before I could utter a word about how lovely the drawing was, his dad said, ‘he has again drawn the flower bigger than the tree. He just has no sense of scale or proportion.’ His wife joined in and started explaining to the child how it is impossible that a flower could be drawn bigger than a tree. No one noticed that he had drawn and coloured a beautiful rainbow in the background. I know you’ll argue that they wanted to teach the right thing to their child, but what the heck. Is it important to teach all the time? Whatever happened to just appreciating the effort that the child had put in? Maybe if they had not pointed it out there and then, their son would have grown up into an adult who thinks flowers are bigger than trees. Maybe. Really?
3 Ask yourself, does it truly matter?
Although the tendency of fault finding mostly comes riding on the justification that you want the other person to become better and not repeat the mistakes etc, but sometimes we just criticise when it serves absolutely no purpose. Imagine a situation when your friend has just come out of a salon after a brand-new hair cut. She looks at you expectantly, and you say, ‘hmm…he’s cut them far too short. The earlier hair style suited you better.’ You just got yourself no points and a friend who’ll feel low for the rest of the day. Arrey, kat gaye uske baal, already. Unless you plan to stick them back on her head with fevicol, your critique served no purpose, at least at that moment. Yes you want to be truthful and yes you want what’s good for her, but what about timing, my dear? Next time, save that precious advice for ‘before’ the situation goes wrong, not afterwards. I’m not asking you to lie or utter false praises, but when fault finding serves no purpose, it’s better to remember two words — shut up.
I would like to end by recalling these words I’d read somewhere:
‘Every night I wrote a list of Things that might go wrong; Every morning I looked at The list and added a little more But then one day, my pen ran out, And life completely changed’ You too want to change your life, don’t you? Sonal Kalra may preach whatever, but she too is quite an expert in criticising. She’s been offered the post of President of the Fault Finders association, but she refused. They don’t even have a logo yet. Isn’t that pathetic?
If you want membership, mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13 Twitter: @sonalkalra
The calmness award this week to two exemplary people…
Sushovan Chaudhuri: for proving that ‘you have to be mad to be a creative genius’ is not a myth; and
Sudhakar Chaurasia: for restoring my faith that the worst hardships in life bow down in the face of a positive attitude and a genuine smile.
Calmness always to you...