‘The church should criticise politicians so that they do the right things’

Luangeni member of parliament Charles Zulu says the church should criticise politicians so that they do the right things.

“When I go wrong as a politician, you have to criticise me because us politicians we are liars. Father, if I am lying, you should criticise me that’s your work. You stand for the God of justice, you have to advise us and criticise us when we start quarrelling as politicians. You have to bring us together and counsel us, that way we can learn properly,” Zulu told Fr Archangel Nkata and other priests in Chipata last week.

Is this a case of ‘it is easier said than done’?

None of us enjoy getting criticised. It’s human nature to enjoy being right and feel a sense of hurt when we’re wrong. The thing is, we all need criticism. Although we’re generally drawn to like-minded people, those who disagree with us truly help us grow. The ones who call us out, point out our weaknesses and flaws.

Yes, the ones who challenge us make us better.

There are times when we shouldn’t listen to criticism – for example, when it’s based on falsehood or given in a way that’s meant to destroy our sense of self-worth.

But in reality, that’s not usually the case. And although we encourage delivering criticism in a way that’s constructive and helpful, these points are important when we’re giving criticism.

When we’re on the receiving end of criticism, our goal should be to learn from the feedback, and not let emotion close our minds. The key is to be proactive, not reactive.

That being said, what reactions do emotionally intelligent people try to avoid when they’re criticized?
When receiving criticism, our first instinct might be to think: Is it really that big of a deal? Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. For the person who brought it to our attention, it was. And we can be sure it will be for others, too.

And we should always remember that when we are striving for excellence, the small stuff matters.

But we shouldn’t automatically take the fall for something we didn’t do, and there are circumstances when we’ll need to defend ourselves.

However, in general, keeping a learning mindset when it comes to criticism will bring the most benefit. When we see ourselves as right all of the time, we’re missing something.

There is no need to try and sidestep issues. Politicians and spin doctors are experts at sidestepping issues. But refusing to tackle issues head-on is not only bad form, it’s also self-defeating.

The first step in improving any weakness is recognising that it’s there.
There’s no need to try and shift the blame. For some people, it’s always the other person’s fault. But those individuals usually end up pretty lonely.

We can’t control others, but we can work on ourselves. When we accept criticism, apply it, and move forward, not only do we benefit – but others benefit from our example.

But putting this into practice is not easy – it’s easier said than done.

Nobody is perfect; we won’t always respond in the best way possible. And therein lies the moral.
But if we work at controlling ourselves and our emotions, every situation becomes a chance to learn and grow.

People that can’t take criticism well simply means that their ego is not permitting them to look at the issue. There can be a lot behind this from a person’s past and hence their reality and how they view themselves. Some of us simply can’t handle being wrong, or see what we think are flaws in ourselves. The resistance is basically a battle of sorts between two realities, ours and theirs.

We know our reality consciously and subconsciously, however we don’t know anyone else’s. We may have a sense or an idea, however the thoughts and feelings that makes one tick is very hard for most people to pick up.

We are fortunate that we can “pick up” other’s energies so we can see or feel the blockages and direct the criticism accordingly.

From our reality we tend to give people information in the way that is best for us, and not best for them. This too can shut someone down to criticism.

Constructive criticism is no more than an observation of someone else’s actions or behaviours. What may be something that is painful to us may be pleasurable to them.

Different things work for different people at different times.

And the way that we approach the subject can greatly reduce a person’s resistance. We may need to lower the voice or speak softly and slowly, not loud and overpowering. In our thinking it’ll be okay if they get it or don’t get it. The recipient will feel the change in our energy and they won’t feel “wrong”. We like to put information out on a “buffet” and allow the recipient to pick and choose what they, how they want it, and when they want it.

We shouldn’t look for them to “get it” in the moment, we should allow them to get it when they are ready.

We can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make it drink. If we show the horse where water is, they can always come back when they are ready and thirsty.

We need to show respect for other’s views and realities, then there will be less desire to give criticism. It is important to remember that we are telling someone else to look at changing something because in that situation we would do things differently!

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