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When to Criticise

Updated on January 8, 2011

Should I risk hurting a friend's feelings?

Some people take criticism better than others. Some say they welcome “constructive criticism”. Of course, some people are more secure than others. But while they may appreciate well intended criticism, I suspect there is always a little bit of resentment as well. We don’t like to be reminded of our faults, or our short comings.

So, the question is, when do you criticize a friend? Do you want to perhaps hurt their feelings, maybe even jeopardize the friendship? I usually avoid criticizing - but not always.

I have a long time friend who always says “I seen”. I’ve never heard him use the word “saw”, as in “I saw”. Nor does he ever say “I have seen”. I think it makes him sound slightly ignorant among our group of friends. But do I want to risk hurting his feelings over correcting his grammar? So far, my answer has been, I do not.

Another friend has neglected his teeth. My wife, and a few of the other ladies in our club agree that his ugly teeth hurt his chances of succeeding with the opposite sex. This guy buys new cars, never misses a chance to take an expensive ski vacation, has motorcycles and spends thousands of dollars on model airplanes, yet apparently invests nothing in his teeth. I could point out to him that he might fare better with the ladies if he would invest in his personal appearance, but I have not done that.

Another friend is very generous about inviting us to his home, but there will always be others there - usually people we don’t know. We never get any one-on-one company with him. He lives some 50 miles away and expects us to come to see him, yet he rarely is willing to come to see us, even though we live in a very nice area and our home is clean and presentable. Him, I have complained to, but I’m not sure this could be considered criticism. In any event, it has not caused him to change this pattern.

Finally, we have a friend who takes every opportunity, in every conversation, to try and sell the pills, vitamins, medicines and other nostrums that he peddles. He even calls up people that are dying to tell them he (with no medical background) knows more than their doctors.

He is the one exception to my policy of not criticizing my friends. In fact, many of the rest in our group also scold him for this practice, but it is like water off a duck’s back. He is so sold on his products that he can’t stop proselytizing.



If you enjoy nostagia, and if you like motorcycles, you would probaby enjoy my book, OVER THE HANDLEBARS, First published in 1975, then updated and enlarged in 2006, it is a collection of short stories and articles about all aspects of motorcycling. It is available from I also have written two other books about motorcycling availalbe from  You can read all 3 of them on your computer for just $2.99 each. Go to


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    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Very sage advice on criticism don


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