It is uncomfortable being witness to a husband telling his wife that the mashed potatoes she cooked are bland and unflavored. Perhaps you’ve been invited to a friend’s home where the mood at the dining room table was ruined by a remark such as the one above. The husband in this scenario would be operating in a brutal and socially inconsiderate manner. He’d be shortsighted to the effects of his remarks, whilst he finds himself on a mission to have his critiques heard.
This article hopes to motivate you to tell people that their cooking tastes good, even if there are some imperfections in its taste. Rather than paying attention to the opinion-filled logistics of taste itself, you should take one step away from the picture in which you find yourself looking down at your plate and lifting food into your mouth.
The opinions below stem from a perspective that the long term gain of promoting / encouraging others’ efforts (such as cooking a meal) outweighs the lessons that your singular critiques would teach them. The hope, is that you come to understand the potential downfalls of being critical of someone’s well meaning efforts, even if your critiques are fully warranted.
First and Foremost, Reward Good Intent
When dealing with a deed which is born out of a good intention, latching onto the specifics of its execution can be a mistake. The intention of someone cooking a meal for you is often overwhelmingly positive. They’d be spending time chopping onions, standing at the stove, and exerting genuine effort only for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Notwithstanding any prior cooking agreement you have with that person, their willingness to agree to cook for you can only be executed if they accept their role as someone who is sacrificing energy and time to produce something they can only hope pleases you.
Be diligent in rewarding intention, even when the specifics of someone else’s work may be a little off. Focusing on the inadequate amount of salt in someone else’s soup is going to poison their sensitive intention to do a good job the next time they start chopping an onion for you. This corruption of future intent therefore, tends to be the danger in focusing on, and socially punishing, the minute short term mistakes that come about from someone trying to do good. You would encourage (although not guarantee) a rotten intention to guide their deeds for you in the future. The person cooking for you may have their intention bruised the next time they’re tasked to make you a sandwich, or brew a coffee for you to enjoy. Their actions would be likelier to be backed by a lack of motivation to do good and be detail oriented. Their output would be susceptible to further suffering in quality.
Don’t dismiss people’s sensitivity to their own mistakes either. When we’re served a soup which needs more salt, the person serving us that soup often makes a comment such as, “See if it’s salty enough for you, I feel like I didn’t put enough in there.” That sensitivity to their own minute mistake is likely to correct itself the next time around. The person making that comment knows that their soup is not as salty as they’d like it to be, and is likely packaging their delivery of that truth in as painless of a manner as they can. They’re trying to save face, and you should let them save it.
Being positive in the face of someone communicating their sensitivity to their own mistakes is likely to positively encourage them to fix their mistakes later on. On the flipside, their intent to contently correct their mistake down the line would suffer if you were to go on and tell them, “You’re right, this soup is bland as paper!”
Being a Promoter of Continued Effort
Promoting the continued effort from that individual is the formidable end goal in rewarding their intent to perform good work for you. Telling people that their cooking is bad on that day, at that time, would serve to further ruin your chances of receiving a pleasant tasting dish from them down the line. Their continued effort would be sustained if you were to encourage them, and reward their effort by telling them what you enjoyed about it. Even if you’re sensitive to telling white lies, just make your compliments more specific. There’s surely something you enjoy about their cooking, or their work.
There are many things to compliment in life, just as there are many things to critique. Focus on promoting the continued effort others put into their work in order to benefit yourself. If you tell them that they’re good at what they do today, people will be motivated to try hard the next time around. Your quest to encourage them to improve would be moving in the right direction if you do, so would your goal in personally benefiting from their work down the line.