I was noticing something about myself the other day. I read a ten-point article on creative expression and agreed with almost everything the writer said. However, there was one point I strongly disagreed with. I was talking about the article with Lana and found myself focusing far more of my time during the discussion on the point I disagreed with than on the other nine that I considered sound advice. At first, Lana seemed to think I strongly disliked the article and the author’s viewpoint, at which point I realized I was giving that impression by focusing on the smaller “negative” to the exclusion of the stronger “positives.”
I’ve also noticed that when I’m critiquing student papers that I need to “consciously” make an effort to focus more on the positive aspects than the negative aspects (assuming there are some). I often find when I go back through a paper I’ve marked that I’ve put far more negative comments down than positive ones, and I adjust for that during my second and third trips through the piece.
Apparently I’m not the only person that does this kind of thing though. I recently saw a review of a story that I’d also read. The reviewer gave the story 4 and half stars and said some very good things about it, but he/she also pointed out one “con.” The reviewer listed the “pros” briefly and concisely, then went on to discuss at some length their “con.” They came back to the “con” during their summary, which gave the impression that the story was almost ‘fatally flawed,” when it seems from their stars and other comments that they really “liked” the story tremendously and were highly recommending it.
Do other folks do this kind of thing? Do you? What possible purpose does it serve for us? Might we not all be better off if we didn’t do that? What do you think?