In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie highlights the dangers of criticism. He says, “It wounds man’s precious pride, hurts his sense of injustice and arouses his resentment.” It is obviously no way to endear oneself to anyone.
To underscore this he tells the story of a hardened criminal by the name of Crowley who, having parked his car in a no-parking area in Long Island, was approached by a policeman and was asked for his license.
Crowley so resented the implication that he was in the wrong that he took out his gun and shot the policeman dead.
The murderer was arrested in May 1931, a case was filed against him and the judge sentenced him to death on the electric chair. Such was his egocentricity that when he was being taken to be executed, he said, “This is what I get for killing people? No, this is what I get for defending myself.” To everyone, Crowley was clearly a murderer, but out of self-love, he sought to find words which would exonerate him of the crime. But no one can gloss over murder with mere words. Rectitude is not a matter of self-righteousness, but a matter of fact.
Nevertheless, people become disaffected or even enraged on being criticized and, in his book, Carnegie has covered the whole range of reasons for this being so.
The main reason is that criticism, particularly when it is true, brings one down from the high pedestal on which one has placed oneself. Man is a self-lover. He never wants to admit his mistakes. To utter the three damning words, “I am wrong” is so difficult that in the long history of mankind there have been very few cases of people who have actually brought themselves to utter them.