Proverbs 9: The Mocker vs the Wise

Just received a negative comment or snub on your latest project, publication, or blog post? Don’t worry, it’s probably for the best!

Consider a new blogger:

  • They’re eager to write, but worried about people’s reaction to their work. They bite the bullet and publish an article. Ping! Someone comments on their blog post. Excited, they approve the comment and read on. The comment isn’t quite what they expected…it’s disparaging to say the least.

What should they do?

A.  Hit “Reply”: “At least I’m pursuing my passion, what are you doing?”
B.  Ignore and adopt a “words will never hurt me” attitude
C.  Quickly delete the comment
D.  Thank the reader for the comment and consider how to learn from the criticism

The response to this question really depends on the individual’s personality. According to Proverbs 9:

7 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

Our attitude towards correction should be like that of the wise person and not the mocker. I must admit, this advice is easier said than done. Having gone through graduate school where my work was constantly scrutinized by colleagues, professors, peers, and journal editors, I used to respond to correction like the mocker: I’d sulk, get defensive, take it personally…rejection is not pretty. The irony is that implementing the feedback usually produced a better product. Yes, criticism improved the quality of my work!

Today I’d like to think that I’ve developed thick skin. I see myself transforming into someone who invites instruction and learns from criticism. Wisdom has helped me realize that correction is the doorway to growth and learning.

Proverbs 9(2)

How do you respond to criticism or correction? 

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7 thoughts on “Proverbs 9: The Mocker vs the Wise

  1. The goal of most people who criticize is to feel superior–it isn’t actually to provide helpful correction. So, usually trying to take in what a mocker says is pointless: their criticism most often has nothing to do with anything but themselves. Real constructive criticism takes thought and attention, and very few people are willing to give that without some form of compensation. We get it from our bosses and sometimes our colleagues–people who have an investment in our performance. We can sometimes get it from our friends because they care about us. And we’ll get it in a class, because that’s what we all understand ourselves to be there for: to hep each other get better. But someone who wanders by our blog who disparages us is rarely invested in helping us be better bloggers.

    So, I think the trick is to try to distinguish between these two different motives for criticism. If it is intended to be constructive, that’s a gift. Jump at it. But be aware that most people aren’t that generous.

    When I’ve been criticized, it’s most often helpful. I’m very hard on myself and I know it: criticism from someone else, that’s constructive, helps me to see that I’m right about what I need to improve. But most often what is helpful to me is to hear what I’m doing well, so that I know to keep doing it. I’ve found my students are the same way about writing. Tell them what they are doing right, and I’ll see more of it. But criticism doesn’t get the same results unless I provide models of what to strive for.

    Interesting topic. Thanks for posing the question.

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    • I’m glad you raised these points. It greatly opens up the conversation.

      My take on negative criticism, is that although mean-spirited, every experience can teach us. I agree that positive reinforcement is extremely important for morale building and confidence. I think being able to give constructive criticism is a valuable skill. Like you correctly said, the purpose of good criticism is to develop and grow the recipient.

      I like what you said about providing models of what to strive for. It’s not enough just to say, “go fix this,” a good example to work from goes a long way.

      Sounds like you’re a great mentor and teacher. Thanks for your insightful feedback! Very apropos given the topic of discussion 🙂

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  2. **@Wisdom has helped me realize that correction is the doorway to growth and learning…>You said more than a mouthful..Oddly enough I needed to hear this today of all days. What a day! Far too much to try to explain , however, you reminded me of something I needed to be reminded of. Little do we know just who our words will reach…Thanks Sis and stay UPlifted N blessed.((( )))

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  3. I think it depends on the kind of person you are and also on the criticisms. Personally, sometimes I just let it go and other times I work on the criticisms. Like a friend says, “criticisms will only make you stronger”.

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    • Exactly. If you’re malleable, criticism when delivered constructively can do wonders for your personal and professional development. Personally, I had to move away from seeing correction as an attack, and more as a tool.

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