How to Convey Criticism the Right Way – Constructive Criticism vs. Destructive Criticism

Dale Carnegie once said “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Dealing with criticism the right way is a real challenge for most people and more so, if you already have a low self-esteem or are unsure of your reaction towards handling them. The way you react to criticism can change your entire outlook on life. Therefore, it is important to resort to ways that can help you benefit from them.

Essentially, criticism can be of two types – constructive and destructive.

In this article, we will take a deeper look into both types of criticism, analyze its pros and cons, and also discuss how to deal with each of them, especially if you are at the receiving end of it.

I for one prefer constructive criticism because it shows that a person has got character and is respectful with his/her words while giving useful feedback to someone.

Difference between Constructive & Destructive Criticism

Most people know that constructive criticism deals with providing useful feedback in a way that is not offensive to other people. However, what they don’t know is how to tell constructive criticism apart from destructive criticism.

So, how are the two types of criticisms different from each other?

Constructive criticism enables people to work on their mistakes after receiving a useful feedback. Instead of making you feel bad about your mistakes, a constructive feedback helps you grow while enhancing your efficiency of work.

Moreover, people generally react positively towards constructive criticism since it does not impact negatively on their morale.

Destructive criticism on the other hand bears negatively on your productivity. The effects are worse when you are already low on self-confidence. Destructive criticism paired with an already low sense of self can be a dangerous combo and a recipe destined for disaster.

A good example of how destructive criticism is a one-way path to failure is when someone is criticized in front of their peers or colleagues. It is common for the person at the receiving end of the criticism to feel humiliated and run low on confidence in the aftermath of the incident, which itself gives rise to more mistakes.

Which Factors are at Play Here?

The factors that need to be taken into account while telling constructive criticism apart from destructive criticism include a quick dissection of the criticism itself.

The next factor to look into is the behavioral aspect of it. To be more precise, how the criticism was delivered to you. While polite and useful ones will fall under the scope of constructive criticism, rude and negative remarks will sway towards the ambit of destructive criticism as we have already established previously.

Another important factor that most people forget about is the mood of the person on the receiving end of the incident. Say you receive feedback that is actually beneficial to you, but you end up reacting negatively to it because of the temper you are in. 

In such instances, it would be your fault and you can’t hold the person providing the feedback liable, because any other reasonable person in your place would not have reacted the way you did.

How to Provide Criticism the Right Way?

The only kind of criticism that is acceptable is constructive criticism. And you should only convey it if it has come from a place of good intention. Moreover, it is only wise to provide constructive criticism to somebody if you are positive that you have some valuable feedback for the person to work on.

Here is a list that I think you will find useful while conveying constructive criticism to an individual:

  • The Sandwich Method

The sandwich method is one of the best ways to convey a criticism safely without having hurt the feelings of the person on the receiving end of it.

So, how does this method work?

The key is to start by concentrating on the person’s strong suits. Once you have covered all bases about what you appreciate about them, you should move on to providing the feedback you want to give.

This may include what you may have not liked about a certain thing or point out the areas which require improvement. End it by going back to the positive comments and how the feedback you provided will help them achieve greater results if they act upon it.

  • Concentrate on the Situation Instead

It is better to eliminate the word ‘you’ entirely while giving criticism. This helps to prevent any kind of rude remarks or personal attacks on the person.

  • Assert Yourself Politely Using ‘I’

This makes all the difference to the tone of a sentence and makes you appear calm and composed. A good example could be when a person says ‘I want you to finish work on time’ instead of saying ‘You never finish your work on time.’

  • Being Specific

Truth to be told, no one will benefit from vague criticisms and will only create the pathway to success more difficult for you, leaving you more confused than ever. Hence, it is much better to provide feedbacks that you can actively work on or make changes to.

  • Criticize Things That Can Be Changed

Instead of humiliating someone for something they cannot change, you should provide useful feedback on things that are in his/her control.

  • Timing is key

Knowing when to give criticism is one very difficult task at hand. The timing has to be such that the person will not be bothered or irritated by the comments no matter what.

  • Recommendations

Providing proper and specific recommendations will allow you to make necessary changes instantly without having to figure it out on your own.

To Conclude

I personally believe that adding personal anecdotes here and there while delivering the criticism makes people react more positively to it since they get to know about a certain someone who had been on the same boat as them. Furthermore, it also provides a little insight as to what steps you can actively work on to resolve the situation.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

13 thoughts on “How to Convey Criticism the Right Way – Constructive Criticism vs. Destructive Criticism

  1. Currently working under supervisor and assistant that are constantly dishing out destructive criticism in front of all employees. Very rude at best. I would take it more personal early on until I’ve heard both do the same to another. It is not healthy for either. I shut down, cannot focus on task, more worry and slow down of doing job correctly. I am big on constructive criticism but low on self esteem again. How do people wake up everyday with such a negative attitude. It’s toxic. Hoping to be able to transfer as I feel I am capable of every aspect of job but gosh darn not with this beat down. So thank you for showing this.

  2. Absolutely brilliant! Will be applying your tips and share them to as many people I can. Thank you

  3. Hello , am so impressed about the consejo you gave concerning about the constructive criticism and the destructiva criticism, because i always become across People like that.

  4. Your out look of the subject is spot on ,I don’t think realise how powerful words can be when coupled up with emotions or when used with a alittle roll play so to speak can feel like they’ve just beaten the crap out you ,but we also have to remember that no one’s perfect and we all do and say stuff when we wish we hadn’t .
    For a man that will take that criticism on the chin and learn from it or a woman that will stand head on and take the good or the bad criticism instead of running sorry avoiding and not showing any respect for the other party is someone that really needs to listen to people who are there for them
    I’ve learnt this the hard way !!!

  5. If feel people should think before giving destructive critisem. It can destroy sensitive people so quickly. It’s so unkind.
    On the other hand I have being given constructive critisem which has taught me a few things in life. Which is great

  6. Thanks for the knowledge to identify constructive and destructive criticism. I immensely look forward to these words of wisdom posted to me daily.

  7. Thanks for the knowledge of this wonderful lesson of constructive and destructive criticism.

  8. Thank you for the difference between two Criticism. the words that says learn everyday are true. Today I gain something.

  9. Very helpful
    But sometime people think they are giving helpful facts about another person but they really do not care if it is helpful or not.
    Verbal abuse is very popular. People think it is good, but they do not care who they might be hurting they have their agenda

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