The Drawback of Not Criticizing Others

I just received this guest post from Jered at Mass Influence the other day and I found it fit nicely with an article I recently posted.  In this post, Jered does an incredible job of giving you reasons why it’s important to not criticize others.  It’s an insightful read…

So, as you probably know there’s a lot of talk going around about how to deal with critical people. In fact, Steve recently wrote a post on it:  6 Tips for Dealing with Critical People.

So, I thought, with Steve’s permission of course, that we would delve into the realm of why it’s important to criticize other people.

Here’s the truth: The biggest drawback of not giving criticism is that the other person will continue to go down the path they are on, unaware of the mistakes they are making.

Before we discuss that, though, it’s important to know some of the reasons why we criticize.

Option A: The Helpful Criticizer

Oftentimes we criticize because we think we are being genuinely helpful. We want the other person to be their best, so we pass on our “expert” judgments in an effort to provide value.

However, uninvited criticism tends to cause resentment in the criticized, and motivates them to justify their value.

With that being said, some people criticize to make others feel or look worthless.

Option B: The Jerkopotamus

You know what I’m talking about. I bet you know someone who gets a lot of satisfaction by “one-upping” and putting down other people.

In my opinion, this type of criticism is the worst, and unjustifiable. After all, that IS what Hitler and the Nazi party did to the “undesirables” in Germany, right?

Unwanted and/or hate-driven criticism just creates this totally uncool negative vibe.  Some people call it brutal honesty, other people call it a necessary evil.

Well I’ve got news for those people: If you really want to lead people, criticizing them in these ways is just not cool.

And here’s the real kicker: Criticizing someone else can be of tremendous value to the other person… IF you do it right.

Introducing Option C: The Fresh Perspective of a Trusted Friend

Okay, so without going all “psychological” and making a total fool of myself, here are the three fundamentals of constructive criticism.

First, we’ve got to be invited to criticize the other person. We need verbal confirmation that it is okay with them to share our perspective. We should respect their right to say “no thanks.” If they don’t want to hear our perspective, then we should keep it to ourselves, or tell the dog. Anyways, the first step is interest and desire. We need their permission to provide our perspective.

Secondly, we’ve got to have a strong bond with the other person. We need to build a bond of trust with the person so that they know we have clear intentions. We should tell the person why we want to give them feedback so that they know our intentions. If we don’t have the bond, and don’t state our intentions clearly and honestly, then we risk having the other person resent us, or justify their behavior. The second step is laying a foundation of trust and clearly stating why we’re giving the feedback.

Thirdly, we’ve got to clearly present our feedback as our own, and make the criticism a discussion. We should always begin the criticism with “The way I see it” or “My perspective is” or “I think” as opposed to making general statements of fact. We should ask questions to get the person to think about the issue, and provide their input. We should apologize if we feel we may have offended the person with the criticism. If they don’t see it our way, we should respect that they have a different viewpoint.

When you have all three of the fundamentals in place, you can give your friends and loved ones a clear, honest perspective that they may otherwise not have had.

Your Turn: I’m interested in learning more about situations where criticism can be a good thing. In what ways can criticism be good for someone, if done correctly?

Steve’s Note: Jered Slusher is the founder of Mass Influence Leadership, a community of leaders driven to gain control over their future, lead other people, and achieve massive amounts of success. Click here to get your free “Stocking Your Leadership Super-Powers” e-book.

Take Action. Get Results.

13 thoughts on “The Drawback of Not Criticizing Others”

  1. Hi Jered,

    I like the naming of “The fresh perspective of a trusted friend” instead of criticism, being either constructive, helpful, or whatever classification we may give it.

    The thing seems to be that when really trying to help then it is about presenting another perspective for consideration by the person we are trying to help, so he/she can use this information for his/her own decisions, rather than telling what the person is doing wrong, which would be our perspective and not his/her.


    • Hey Raul,

      I think you are right. Ideally, it’s more about providing a fresh perspective for people to make their own judgments on rather than casting judgment and trying to tell people what they should do.

      Jean Sarauer of Virgin Blogger Notes also suggested to present the perspective as “Have you ever considered…” which I think is a genius way of bringing other people into that consideration state.

  2. Hi Scott and Jered,

    “The Jerkopotamus” Love that! 🙂

    I must admit that I have been guiilty a time or two of giving unsolicited advice. It may have come off as criticism, but I think if you have good intentions, that it shines through to the receiver. (I hope!). I like to think that most people are good people and try to help each other out. You’ve got to give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes, otherwise we will have people going around with their fly unzipped and spinach in their teeth 🙂 No one wants to be That Guy or That Gal.

    • lol!

      Karen… This afternoon after lunch I looked into the mirror and noticed this little green speck at the top of my front tooth… a leafy piece of lettuce! No-one was around to see it, thank goodness, but I was so thankful that the mirror provided me with it’s fresh perspective.

      The mirror: my trusted friend. If it weren’t for the mirror, who knows how I’d look?

  3. I am not sure that criticism works at all, even when it is offered as type C. I really don’t think that telling people what they are doing wrong has any benefit except to make the criticizer feel smart. How about looking for what they do well and complimenting that and leaving the rest alone. At least until they ask.

    • Hey Ralph,

      I agree the criticism should be used sparingly.

      I think that constructive criticism can be helpful if there is a strong bond between the individuals, and the person being criticized really wants to hear the perspective of the other person.

      Fore example: A writer hands his article to an editor and asks for the editor his or her perspective. I think that through that process, the writer can learn what mistakes to avoid, and what’s going well.

      In terms of how to lead people, I wouldn’t advise criticizing other people’s work unless they ask. In that case, I would probably ask questions to help them see what is going well and what can be improved on their own.

      Thank you for your insights, Ralph.

  4. Hey Steve,

    Nicely put. As mentors and coaches, it’s actually our duty to guide people to the right path…

    I once heard someone say “there’s no such thing as constructive criticism”, and that’s exactly what you pointed out in Option A. Criticism, even if the intention is good, leaves the other person diminished.

    I like what you said about being invited to give feedback. That’s absolutely the right way to do it. We gotta approach it from a paradigm of giving trusted opinion and advice.

    Thanks for the thought,


  5. I think it is important to be criticized, it brings shows us when we are wrong and provides us with confidence when we are right. Same for when we give criticism to other people. Personally, I like criticism because, it shows me how I can improve myself and my work. Nice reference to the Nazi party, btw.

    • Personally I like to “criticize” in a way that I add all the positives then say something like, “this one area…could use improvement” That way you add the good with the bad. You are not being wholly negative, but are also giving solid feedback

  6. I think there are definitely times to bring up an issue to a person. I guess the next question though is how you do it. I’ve heard that you use use “feeler” statements – ie I feel like you… I think the other thing is whether you’re criticizing with an audience. What I mean is if you’re unloading in a blog comment, the whole world can see. If you’re expressing a concern over email, it’s for that person only. In my opinion, if you do it right, no one else has to know. What do you think?

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