Discarding Praise and Preserving Criticism in Medical Practice
Commenting in the September 6, 2008 “One Big Umbrella” blog, Newfoundland playwright Robert Chafe responded to a question “How do you deal with praise? With criticism? “with “I'd like to be able to ignore both. I've gotten great at discarding praise, but criticism? I can still quote bad reviews and negative feedback for years afterwards. not healthy, that.”
I have a feeling that most playwrights would agree with Mr. Chafe. This led me to wonder whether this might be even a more common response, applicable to all professions including medicine. If so, then what is the difference in the longer term significance between praise and criticism? Could it be that praise is generally given more as just “words” or (perhaps my cynical appraisal) a method for secondary gain by the ones who deliver the praise? But criticism, on the other hand, may contain many fragments of truth and meaning which for the benefit of the receiver and others should be considered and retained. Could it be that praise is generally less constructive than criticism in promoting professional improvement?
I wonder what my blog visitors think about how physicians should manage, if they could, the discard vs retention as applied to praise vs criticism issue. Unfortunately, criticism is rarely directly delivered by the physician’s patients or even from the physician’s own colleagues and, from my own experience; the criticism is mostly delivered by one’s self. That self-criticism is, fortunately or unfortunately, rarely easily discarded. ..Maurice.
Graphic: Discarded awards, photographed by me 6-8-2010 in a neighborhood yard.