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How to Differentiate Between Criticism and Bullying

“Always be kind to others and treat them the way you, yourself want to be treated. It’s the only way to ever change things for the better.”

Most of our conversations lately have been centered on the problem of exploitation in our society, usually linked to harassment or bullying. To have a conversation about abuse is always difficult, but it is important to address these issues if we want things to ever change for the better.

Some people don’t think before speaking, they just say the first thing that comes to their mind without even considering how the other person might perceive it. They call it being ‘opinionated’, ‘bold’, ‘confident’ but what they forget is that their opinion might hurt someone’s feelings.

Criticism generally is not bullying and is necessary, it helps one see where they’re deficient, and what improvements they have to make in order to do better, but negative criticism that intends to show someone their downfall and is designed to be outright hurtful becomes bullying . Fortunately, one does learn from criticism, but it also sometimes hit their self-esteem.

Constructive criticism can make a person and bullying can completely destroy them. If someone is constantly harassed, threatened, humiliated or targeted, it can cause mental and emotional damage which can have short-term and long-term effect on their life.

Sometimes people bully others because they themselves have been bullied and they suffer from a low self-esteem, so they want someone else to feel the pressure and pain that they felt.

Bullying is one of the most dangerous acts in our society today and it can also result in someone harming themselves due to constant pressure. At times people don’t even know when their criticism takes the shape of bullying. At times people don’t understand the difference between the two, and they mistake bullying for criticism and affect other people’s mental health by their hurtful remarks.

There are certain steps that will make you understand the difference between constructive criticism and bullying, also help you become a good critique:

Define constructive criticism and bullying

Before criticizing someone, make sure you understand the difference between constructive criticism and bullying. First define both expressions, so you can easily identify them as they occur.

Constructive criticism is; a process of offering well-intended remarks on the work of others so they can know their strengths and weaknesses, which helps them improve in the future.

Bullying is; unwanted aggressive behavior that is used to exploit someone. This behavior is repeated and it can affect the person’s physical and mental health.

Be careful with words

Always use encouraging words when you’re trying to help someone understand how they can become better. Don’t demotivate them with degrading remarks or target them by constantly pointing out their weaknesses, it will only make them lose their enthusiasm. If you really want them to improve then give them suggestions or help them find solutions to make things better, it gives the other person the motivation to make improvements.

Be conscious of your tone

Don’t ever use a stern tone when you’re trying to correct someone or pointing out their mistakes, coming off as harsh or angry will only result in them putting up their defenses. So always use a kinder or more polite tone which doesn’t make the other person feel attacked.

Focus on the strengths first and then the weaknesses

If you’re going to emphasize on someone’s strengths then it will encourage them to accept their weaknesses/ faults and make them more focused on the things which they need to improve. This will also boost their confidence.

Give personal examples

Speak from your own experience so that the other person can actually understand where you’re coming from. Try to share your strategies which helped you in improving your work.

Only speak where you think it’s needed

Criticizing or correcting others can be really satisfying but before doing that we need to ask ourselves, does the other person really need to be corrected? If the feedback isn’t necessary then there’s no need of saying anything. Also, don’t criticize someone for something they can’t change. Criticizing someone for something they can’t change and then walking away, makes them feel helpless and it is actually a form of bullying. Speak about the things which have room for improvements and also offer your help; it will motivate them to work harder.

Always be kind to others and treat them the way you, yourself want to be treated. It’s the only way to ever change things for the better.


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.