The art of constructive criticism

Recently, I was sent a message from someone who was offended that I hid their post on my Facebook wall. Their post attacked someone I quoted who I care about a lot in my life. It basically suggested they came across extremely poorly to the person in a three hour event they had with them. They suggested lots of other people felt the same way. I promptly made this comment invisible upon which the person took exception and argued that in ‘censoring’ my wall, I was ignoring a ‘factual’ argument.

Here’s the deal.

First, a person’s opinion of someone else is not factual. It is an opinion. One experience with someone will create an impression. That will be an impression.

Second, one is entitled to their opinion of course. But I am entitled to ignore your opinion if I don’t care for it. Furthermore, I am entitled to not allow you to broadcast your opinion to people who follow me.

Third, (and most importantly) I always ask myself the following question… does a comment serve people in a way that I believe will make them better as a result.

This is critical and central to my point in this post. You see, I know many people will disagree with me when I make my opinions known. I know plenty of people will dislike me and who they perceive me to be. I don’t like that necessarily but it is a part of connecting with so many people in the public domain.

But, to me, I am not looking for people’s opinions about me. Instead I am interested in what people think about what I am doing and not doing and how I am doing. I am interested in understanding how I can become better than I was before and make more of a difference than I did before.

Constructive criticism is the art of making people better by helping them see what they can improve. Destructive criticism is the art of making people worse by destroying their confidence or giving them poor advice. What I always look for… and give… is constructive criticism.

That doesn’t mean to say I always like it. Often, I don’t. But I listen to it and learn from it as often as I can. You see, to me, any bruise to my ego will be proven worth it for what it can help me to do in the future. That being said, not all criticism is created equal. I will take my own counsel on the advice or suggestions that are given to me. But the fact that I get that advice or those suggestions is what matters. They are an extra source of help and information which can ensure that I continuously improve.

In terms of what my point is… or what my constructive suggestion is for you… the trick is to start looking for criticism from others and, if it isn’t conveyed in a very constructive way, try and find the wisdom in it. Furthermore, try and avoid criticising others unless you are doing something positive for them, yourself or others as a result.

Criticism can make things better or make things worse. Focus on making things better and beware of the egos. Beware of the egos.

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