Part of being a #SmartBrownGirl is always striving to do better, even in areas that are not easy to confront. Criticism is high up on the chart of difficult to broach subjects and post my Lack of Support and Losing Friends post, I’ve had every intention of covering this topic. But it’s touchy, so I delayed but we are finally here. The Lack of Support video got a ton of support, the feedback was largely in agreeance and grateful that I shared my story. There were a handful of people who flat out suggested I don’t know how to take criticism and was too sensitive. They are entitled to their opinion as that is part of me sharing myself on these interwebs, but I do not agree with them. However, they were not the only ones who I felt missed the real point of that video. Even some who agreed with me missed the point because I don’t want to foster the idea that your friends, as soon as they disagree with you or tell you something that you don’t agree with, should be immediately cut off. The content of what those girls, during that lunchervention, said to me was not the main issue. It was their delivery, set up and then lack of understanding that was the issue.
It’s impossible to make it through life without ever asserting your opinion in the form of critique. We all do it. Especially with those we are comfortable with. Part of being able to sustain healthy adult relationships is being able to give and receive constructive, productive criticism. It’s a level of honesty that is the epicenter of a true friendship. I’m the first one to raise my hands and say that I have a hard time with both sides of the coin. Don’t you dare go calling me sensitive, lol…but YouTube has definitely exposed to me what exactly I am sensitive about. Putting yourself out there and giving people the opportunity to have an opinion, is a rough road to walk but it’s a growing process. Holding my tongue with friends as they do things that have me cocking my head to ever so lightly 30º to the left, furrowing my well manicured brows and keeping my thoughts to myself. Especially when they ask for your opinion, not because they really want to hear what you have to say but because they in this moment just want your acceptance. Realizing that there are moments in every friendship where you just have to rub their back and massage their ego with charming words because they need that, and you have or will need it to. There is a fine balance to all these things, because a person who over does it might not be a person worth keeping around, but it’s about finding that balance. And that most definitely takes work.
What’s important to remember is being open minded. Understanding that there is never a time where you know and understand absolutely everything that is going on with another person. The best rule of thumb is to not offer up your opinion until you are asked. However if you are so compelled to intercept unrequited then offer your opinion as an open-ended questions where the person isn’t required to give you any more of a response than “ok”. If you are on the receiving line and feel yourself getting upset, hit them with that “ok, I’ll think about” and end the conversation right there. If you are able to walk away, think about where it came from and what they were actually saying and you are still offended, that approach that person after you’ve had time to calm down and think about it. Annnnnnnnd…just address what they actually said, do your best not to bring up past transgressions or throw things they’ve said to you in confidence back in their face. Simply “when you said xyz, I was offended because abc,” as a battle over words is always a effort in futility.
You’re not going to succeed every time. We are human and we all have sensitive cores. We over speak, speak out of turn, take things the wrong way and respond out of emotions, at least once (and that’s being super generous) in our lives. So we can all work to do better as #SmartBrownGirls who value friendships that are a circle of growth and inspiration.