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Giving Constructive Criticism

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Posted 27 June 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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Giving constructive criticism

For most people, criticism is regarded as a negative distasteful thing. Criticism is something to be avoided. Giving criticism is something that you should not do to others. Most people regard criticism as bad.

But I would like to suggest that criticism is not necessarily bad.

Proper Criticism can be good for you

Proper criticism can be good for you because it points out where and when you are not doing things right. And knowing where you are not getting things right; where you are getting things wrong, may be regarded as valuable information.

Proper criticism is valuable information

Because if you are making errors in your performance, and you don't realise, that you are making such errors, then you will likely repeat the same error over and over again, for years. The cumulative effects of the making same minor error that you repeat every day for years, has a huge effect on your overall result.

If only someone had come along and told you about the error in performance. If only you had had someone to point out your errors so that you could eliminate them and replace them with more accurate behaviours.

If only someone had given to you some constructive criticism; if only you had the courage to accept such criticism without your ego getting in the way of your learning.

Ego sometimes gets in the way of learning

Most people don't take criticism very well. They don't learn from criticism because their ego stops them from seeing criticism as information, and instead, they see criticism as an insult.

Do you know someone who cannot, (will not) accept any criticism? This person is allergic to criticism. They mistakenly believe that constructive criticism is an insult.

Constructive Criticism or Insult?

Constructive criticism is not an insult.
Constructive criticism is distinguished from insult by the fact that constructive criticism has certain distinctive characteristics that make it different from insults.

Please note the following.

Constructive criticism has the following distinguishing characteristics

Constructive criticism is:

  1. Factual
  2. Specific
  3. Objective statement
  4. Intended to help
  5. The criticism does suggest a specific corrective action

Constructive criticism is different from insults.

Insults have the OPPOSITE characteristics

Insults have the following characteristics. Insults are:

  1. Opinionated
  2. Vague
  3. Subjective statement
  4. Intended to hurt
  5. It does NOT suggest a specific corrective action

When you are giving people constructive criticism, please ensure that you are not confusing it with insults.

Example of criticism. You have not done your homework.
Example of insult. You are an idiot.

Often people blend insult with criticism, as in the following example.

You have not done your homework, you idiot.

Example 2. The following example is part feedback, part insult. Please distinguish between the insult component and the valid criticism component.
"You are twenty minutes late for the meeting. You seem to have a problem telling the time, or else you have an attitude problem. Next time would you please be on time".

Answer:
The proper critical component was: "You are twenty minutes late for the meeting. Next time would you please be on time"?
The improper insult component was: "You seem to have a problem telling the time, or else you have an attitude problem."

Distinguish insults from proper criticism.
It is vital that you distinguish insults from criticism.
Break all feedback into two categories. See map below.

Use only the constructive side. Never use the insult side.

Think about how you use your language.
Your life results are often dependent on how you speak to people and which words you use to express your meaning.
People who are careless with how they speak often end up in deep trouble.
People who are good with words rule the world.
Think about that.

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