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Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron

March 8, 2018

We hear it all the time, "I have some constructive criticism for you."  But how can "constructive criticism" be helpful?  If you look up the definitions of those two words, they contain explanations such as: constructive = to build up; criticism = disapproval of faults or mistakes.  How can someone build up and tear down at the same time? And don't most of us focus on the term "criticism" versus the "constructive", which in turn puts up an automatic wall of defense?

 

In my practice, I prefer to use the term "constructive feedback". Feedback = information about reactions to a person's performance used as a basis for improvement. In using this term, I have found people are more open and receptive to the information I have to provide.  Which in turn makes them more likely to implement some if not all of the feedback.

 

Of course, there is a caveat to providing constructive feedback - ask permission first.  No one likes to receive unsolicited feedback, even if it is constructive.

 

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