When Insults Were Eloquent – Revel in the Juicy Language

 

     Have you thought about what’s happened to how we use language now? How we put messages and ideas we mean to get across? Since speed and ease are the big drivers in today’s communication,  I thought I’d take you on a visit to how something as tough as insults were creatively put by writers and speakers in days gone by.  Read these and enjoy the masterful way language was used.  Do they tempt you to re-think how you write those emails? 

A little levity helps put criticism in perspective, even though it’s sometimes hard to take.  I think you’ll enjoy these………I know I did.

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
………………………………………….Winston Churchill

A modest little person, with much to be modest about.

…………………………………………Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great
pleasure.
…………………………………………Clarence Darrow

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the
dictionary.
…………………………………………William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

Does he really think big emotions come from big words?
…………………………………………Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time
reading it.
…………………………………………Moses Hadas

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.
………………………………………..Abraham Lincoln

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.
………………………………………. Groucho Marx

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved
of it.
………………………………………..Mark Twain

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.
………………………………………..Oscar Wilde

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
friend, if you have one.
………………………………………..George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second if there is one.
……………………………………….Winston Churchill, in response to Bernard Shaw

He is a self-made man and worships his creator.
……………………………………….John Bright

I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it¹s nothing trivial.
……………………………………….Irvin S. Cobb

He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.
……………………………………….Samuel Johnson

He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.
………………………………………..Paul Keating

He had delusions of adequacy.
………………………………………..Walter Kerr

There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure

…………………………………………Jack E. Leonard

He has the attention span of a lightning bolt.
…………………………………………Robert Redford

They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human
knowledge.
………………………………………..Thomas Brackett Reed

He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by
diligent hard work, he overcame them.
…………………………………………James Reston (about Richard Nixon)
In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.
………………………………………..Charles, Count Talleyrand

He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.
………………………………………..Forrest Tucker

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?
………………………………………..Mark Twain

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.
……………………………………….. Mae West

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
………………………………………..Oscar Wilde

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts for support rather
than illumination.
………………………………………..Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

He has Van Gogh¹s ear for music.
………………………………………..Billy Wilder


CRITICISM WITHOUT PAIN

HOW TO GIVE IT-HOW TO RECEIVE IT

The biggest problem about criticism is that it can deliver pain. We all hate that (I think we all hate that) so we either avoid criticizing by letting things slide or we lie or else we’re so irate that we do it full guns a-blazin’ and accomplish only hurt or anger, disbelief or denial. That’s absolutely counter to what criticism is supposed to do.

  • The Main Purpose of Criticism is to FIX SOMETHING
  • It’s meant to be constructive- not destructive
  • It should end with a positive result

HOW-TO FOR CRITICS

What We do Wrong

1. The YOU word. Don’t start with blame- “Look how badly you did that!” “This work (or whatever) you did looks terrible”. Splat goes the self-confidence. Being so judgmental removes step one in fixing anything—the idea that we possibly could fix it.
2. Blaming indulges the critic. But it provokes anger and defensiveness in the “blamee”                                                                                                                                                          3. Blaming derails constructive problem-solving, since you’ve already said you have no faith in this person.

Criticizing Creatively

1. First- reassure your listener that he/she can surely fix whatever by talking about what went RIGHT! What did you like? What worked? That gets you off on the right “I know you can do it” foot.
2. Focus on the facts, never on the person. “Can’t understand how this job went through without X being checked.”. Name what went wrong—not who did it wrong.
3. Ask before you accuse. Easy, non-accusatory questions to discover the roots of the problem, what processes were involved., what didn’t work for you. Then you can start fixing what and who went wrong.
4. Adopt a no-fault policy. Make your criticism a fact-finding mission. Focus on the problem and how to prevent it’s happening again.
5. Be specific. Not ”I didn’t like that report” or ‘The party was terrible”. What exactly went wrong and needs fixing? How can folks fix what they don’t understand or didn’t even recognize?
6. Ask for a creative solution. Don’t solve and dictate on your own—that won’t work or last very long. Engage the other person in helping solve what you didn’t like— then they’ll know what to do and why and also feel empowered. And that you have faith in
them.
7. Build in a fail-safe check-in . If it’s a report, ask them to show you the first draft. A party? Go over the menu and decorations in the planning stage. Engage in what went wrong by helping solve the issue along the way.

HOW-TO FOR WHEN YOU’RE CRITICIZED

What We Do Wrong

1. Don’t react at once, jumping to your own defense. That sets up a competition about who’s right and if it’s the boss or an elder or a person in power, you lose.
2. Defensiveness is a weak and hostile position. It means you’re notready to listen or correct something and cuts off possible constructive dialogue.
3. Denying what went wrong or arguing that it’s not important or telling how others reacted to the issue is another no-no. If this person needs you to fix something, it needs fixing!

Creative Listening

1. Listen first. Concentrate on two things: What is being said and how it’s being said. This gives you a heads-up on how the other person feels and will create more appropriate reactions.
2. Ask questions. Get clear about exactly what you need to fix.  What has made this person so unhappy/mad/critical.
3. Say that you’re so sorry to hear this since you knew how important the report etc. was and that you worked really hard on it.
4. Get specific answers about what else was needed. Ask about the goals, which demographic needs the most focus, what aspect specifically was not working.
5. If you feel there’s more the boss needs to know about what processes didn’t work, add this now, as a helpful , constructive  suggestion, not an excuse.
6. Ask for a progress check. To be sure you’re both on the same page, check in along the way in your next effort.

Special Way to End and Leave

1. Say “Thanks for Telling Me.” What? Here you are, you’ve just been criticized. It may have been done badly, or cruelly, or  whatever and you may still feel angry or hurt and you should do  what? Yes, say “Thanks for being so straight with me. It gives
me a chance to fix what went wrong and tells me that you have  faith in me, in my handling the truth and in my ability to fix this.
I like to do good work and this helps me understand more of  what you want.”
2. Walk out with a smile and your head up high. No hangdog slinking  0ut of the room. This also helps the boss feel better, seeing that you could take it in and not fold. Since no one likes to criticize, this helps.