Consider it Jousting

Constructive criticyzm is a well accepted concept, but add a little sarcasm you have probably crossed the line.

Having a good round of “jousting” with a friend who knows you well enough to make fun of you but loves you enough not to actually break anything can be a fun and stimulating experience. As long as the parties are considerate of each-other, even sarcasm can be fair game.

Now switch mental gears for a minute and consider criticism.

Our society is fairly accepting of the concept of constructive criticism. Done in the right manor, it is possible to make observations about other people that encourage them to change for the better. This is effective only to the point where the parties trust each other.

Now mix the two. (insert explosion here)

My experience says that there needs to be a very distinct separation between these two operations. As long as you can trust a friend to pull you aside and be intentional and loving with real criticism, the jousting can be a blast.

I recently felt the need to make an apology to a relative that I had been jousting with for several days. We had given each other considerable amounts of grief in a humorous sort of way and to a point, I was confident that it was all in the spirit of fun. That “point” came when I said something a little to close to being a real put down.

Although I did not intend it derogatorily, something told me that the comment was inappropriate and so I brought it up the next day and asked forgiveness. Thankfully no inferences had been made, but the mistake got me really thinking about what things are safe topics for jest.

In the pleasant conversation that ensued with this individual, I found out that I was not the only one to have jousted with them and hit the same unsafe topic. Unfortunately the other party had long since crossed the line and was mixing real criticism with the humorous comments. The effect was devastating.

The moral of the story? If you are going to seek this kind of fun, please make the extra effort to ensure that your engaging in considerate jousting. Save any topic even remotely close to real criticism for a real “in love” discussion, and make sure this is well understood in the relationship!


Portrait of cuteness

My cousins are cuter than your cousins.

The week before last marked the fourth bi-anual Maclennan Clan reunion. I had a truly wonderful time relaxing with family and hanging out on the northern California coast. We got home just in time to cope with the chaos that is living and working in a tourist town on the fourth of July.

I have not had time to sort through all of the pictures yet, but I did get one set of pictures posted on flickr.