Criticism

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RediSpades, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. I was watching Michael Ammar's Introduction to Coin Magic once again to see what little bits of wisdom I could pull from this genius and I was really interested in the last bits of information he gave to starting magicians. One of the things that he said was in regard to criticizing other magicians negatively. He stated "Every time I see a magician criticizing another magician, both people look bad." This made me think because the other night I was talking to a fighter who was watching some clips of Muhammad Ali and the only thing that was coming out of his mouth was how much he hates this once great fighter. He called him a cheat and so on, so I rebuked him because I really do respect Ali. But after watching these words of wisdom come out of Michael Ammar's mouth, it made me realize why the brash fighter looked so bad in my eyes. This made me reflect on some of the other magicians that I have bad mouthed (Criss Angel being one of them) and it dawned on me how stupid I have looked all those times. I issue a challenge to everyone of the old courtesy "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

    *I should note that this post is just a thought and is not in response to anything that I have seen recently. I just thought that fellow magicians would appreciate the shedding of my own self-deception and maybe even pull some of it out themselves.*
     
  2. I feel that many critical magicians have some very valid points against those that they criticize. To me it isn't the criticism but the way it is usually delivered. 12 years ago I was learning to be a certified Snowboard instructor through AASI/PSIA. I learned some fundamentals about teaching that I am shocked to say many professional teachers seem to miss. The one that has served me better than anything is "Positive/Negative/Positive." It is like a mantra in the PSIA community. It means that when you give negative feedback always couch it between positive feedback. People, you will find, respond very well to this type of criticism. People accept negative feedback and respond to it when they hear it from an ally.

    So giving positive feedback along with the negative, no matter how difficult that seems sometimes, is the best strategy if your ultimate goal is to correct a mistake or improve an outcome. So basically, if you don't like what you see another magician doing, ie. you think it hurts the "craft", you should struggle to first find common ground with that magician. Once you get that you can start finding appropriate way to give them the negative feedback that they need. Honestly, in this case, being the "good egg" out to lend a helping hand is the results oriented strategy. Launching into a tirade and picking apart every flaw you see in a fellow magician is essentially just being a "Yosemite Sam." People just tune you out and miss some of the valid points you are making.
     
  3. Truer words have never been spoken. It's so very easy to get caught up in the moment and tell someone that you don't like X thing. You may even be able to quickly rattle off what it is about X thing that you don't like, but that is just criticism. It's not constructive, and it's not really helpful. It takes more of an effort to analyze what about it that you don't like and then offer back something helpful the person could consider that might improve their "thing".

    Thanks for posting this, I think it's a reality check we all can use from time to time.
     
  4. Here's where I have to disagree. There are a lot of times when you need someone to tell you flat out, "No, what you just did was wrong, and here's why." It's good for you. When friends tell me I'm doing something wrong, they don't preface it with, "Alex, you can be really funny when you try, but..." If I step out of line, I expect them to slap me down. Hell, I encourage it.

    I'm not opposed to politeness and civility, I just don't like it when people think they have to fake it in order to come across as being "constructively critical." Why not just be critical? That's not in itself a bad thing.
     
  5. There is nothing inherently bad about just being straightforward and critical. It just isn't as effective as finding a nice way to do it. There are certain people, at certain times of their life who will respond better to harsh, straightforward criticism. But most of us, most of the time respond better to positive reinforcement. Like the Marry Poppins song, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down."

    So you don't have to ask yourself, "do I want to be perceived as a nice guy? Or do I wan't to be perceived as a tough guy?" All you need to do is ask, "Do I want to be an effective leader/mentor?" If you want to be effective...be positive most of the time.
     
  6. There comes a point where you just need to be blunt with people. I'm a creative guy, but there's not a lot of positive things I can come up when someone asks for feedback on their new video and my dominating thought is, "Please post a video where your junk is not the supporting actor in the scene."

    The problem as I see it is that people mistake being critical with being hypercritical. My brother is just as argumentative as me and the rest of my family, but the problem is that he doesn't know when to turn it off sometimes. He criticizes when it's not appropriate, and over very trivial things. Things get really ugly when he turns that on himself and before too long melts down. That's being hypercritical.

    I try to make my criticisms as practical as possible, but during a point in my life where I tried the whole, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," approach, people more or less just walked all over me and dismissed everything I had to say. I think people are smart enough in general to understand that if you provide adequate reasoning and explanation for your criticisms, they'll often say, "Okay, that makes sense." They may not agree with it, but they understand.

    And in that regard, my experience is that people don't get a lot of real criticism online, because not many people online actually criticize. They bark.
     
  7. Well being positive certainly isn't easy at times. I can think of many times I wanted to tell a client, "Pack up your board and go home. You suck so bad you will never learn how to ride." But I didn't. I persevered and kept my "Positive, Negative, Positive" mantra going. Usually if I kept at it things would eventually turn around, even with the worst students.

    I wouldn't doubt that a "Can't say nothing nice," strategy wouldn't work. Notice I quoted Marry Poppins, not Thumper. People need the negative criticism...it just goes down better with a lump of sugar.

    Being blunt is fine...You just need to establish you are on their side first.
     
  8. The deadly combination of selective hearing, fear of failure, and the desire to never hurt anyone's feelings ever can lead to someone just not hearing the advice. "You did X well, but Y, Z and W all need work. Here's what I think would make it better: " turns into "You did well."

    People need to be able to hear that they failed. Most of what we do will start out sucking and get better over time. That's the truth of the matter. But over the past couple decades we've shifted to become this ultra-PC, no-one ever fails society that too many people are being told that crap is gold. I always try to mix positive comments in with my criticisms, but sometimes people need to know that their darlings are actually horrible, and they need to kill them.

    This is why I value certain people more than others in my magical learning. I want someone who will tell me, "Ok. I see what you're trying to do, but you're not getting that. Here, try this."

    One thing I will say, though, is that if you don't have some suggestion as to how to make it better, then don't just bash. "This sucks lolololol" does nothing. Add something that will help the person make it not suck.
     
  9. Very good opinions being voiced here. I agree with the Positive/Negative/Positive effect if the person asking for advice is a beginner/just starting out in magic. They are new to the world of criticism from magicians and shouldn't have to take on "directly in your face" criticism just yet. It would be a little bit too much for them to handle and they would feel a little overwhelmed. I know when I first started out and I received harsh and critical comments that weren't nice at all it didn't make me want to keep on doing it, but I did anyway. Coming from an old personal experience, having the harsh direct criticism isn't something I would want until I'm used to getting the basic form of it first.

    Just like Eostresh said, A spoonfool of sugar helps the medicine go down. When you're first starting it's easy to get the Positive/Negative/Positive feedback because it's easier to learn from your mistakes and you won't feel discouraged as much.

    I feel that on the online community we have here, unless they ask for complete and direct constructive feedback (to where we know they can handle it), we should always be cautious of the individual and give feedback in a professional and positive manner.

    Just my opinions.
     
  10. That's the thing. Saying that wouldn't be criticism, it's just being a tool. And I don't notice a lot of people making that distinction anymore. Anytime you say anything is wrong for any reason, suddenly you're the douchebag in the equation. It drives me up the wall every time someone asks for criticism and then complains when they get it because it was clear they were really just looking for an ego boost.
     
  11. Just real quickly, this thread was more to the effect of criticizing in front of others, especially without the other person present. The constructively criticize is a whole different matter which could fill pages. But this was in light of speaking negatively of other performing magicians where there is no way it would help him or her, because you are just trash talking behind their back. This can also be applied to all facets of life, such as work, or school, or ninja training.
     

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