Why the perfect Christmas Gift to me is criticism (and a bottle of wine)
I’m not a Christmas Gift kind of person, as most of my friends are aware. I don’t give gifts unless I find things that suit the other party, or if a friend has asked me to buy something for him or her, I would be happy to present it as a gift.
For some reason, picking out meaningful gifts and writing thoughtful notes on greeting cards seem quite unnatural to me. So I am very appreciative when people make the effort with their thoughtful gifts.
But if you’re thinking of getting me a gift, the perfect Christmas Gift to me is criticism (and a bottle of wine). [It has to be a legit bottle, if not you could also do away with the latter. Just kidding!] Here’s why.
I recently went on a trip with a close friend. We had known each other since we were 13 years old, and go back a long way. For some reason, perhaps we had gone down different paths in lives, our tastes had become so divergent that I felt a tad uneasy telling her my true opinion with regard to things, such as her shopping decisions.
For one, I must acknowledge that I’m quite the coward. I prefer to be non-confrontational, and would rather not say negative things if I could help it. And I must say that particular friend can get rather intimidating when she’s displeased. She was also the friend who taught me the concept of, ‘I am always right’.
‘I am always right’…
When I was young, my parents used to tell me to be humble, and listen to what they had to say. Therefore, I was never a ‘I am always right’ sort of person. But after starting work, I realised that it was important to adopt the ‘I am always right’ mindset, even though there could be a possibility that I am not right.
Reason being, when you think you’re right, you exude a sense of confidence that could put any form of criticism on hold, and avoid getting bullied or taken advantage of by others. In a competitive world, it’s important to be confident, and take on such an image.
I can’t deny that the thinking – ‘I am always right’ might get you somewhere in life, especially in your career. But it is also important to be able to switch that off, and on, at the right time, as you may end up being such a person, at work and even at home. This could hinder opportunities for personal growth.
But accept that you could be wrong to selected people
I am the way I am today, because of feedback and criticisms from trusted friends and colleagues. I must say that the initial feeling when one hears an unsavoury piece of feedback would be — ‘huh?’, or a natural instinct would be to defend him/herself. But I used to take time to evaluate and assess if the feedback was true. It varied from person to person – some gave pretty incisive feedback, others partially relevant, and some were completely inaccurate.
The person cares for you, and that is why he has stuck his neck out to tell you the hard truths
No matter how inaccurate the feedback is, I’d appreciate the effort if there are good intentions. It’s easy to give a compliment, but feedback, especially of the negative sort can be tough and difficult to convey, especially if you wish to maintain a friendship. It takes more courage, energy and effort to criticise than to compliment. (Hence, a good bottle of wine might help to ease things a little, as requested in the title of this post).
The Investing Squid’s Take
To me, criticism with positive intentions, administered in a tactful manner is the best Christmas gift. As I grow older, the number of close friends around me dwindles. And even more so are the ones who can, and are willing to give me constructive feedback. I hope these friends will never stop trying. No price can be placed on the value of friendship, and the fact that their words have made me a better human being as the years go by.
Thank you for sticking your neck out for me, risking some semblance of displeasure to tell me what was you honestly thought.