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Thread: you versus constructive criticism

  1. #1
    Phoenix Incarnate Array Sentura's Avatar
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    Apr 2009

    Default you versus constructive criticism

    so i'm at a road fork here.

    i'm in one of many situations where i can choose to either criticize something or someone for betterment, or bite my tongue and heighten my frustration as my inner improvement devil screams at me to say something. it is in everyone's favor that the subject or object improves, yet there are either rules blocking this or the people involved would consider it to be behavior without proper restraint.

    in this thread, i am looking for answers for two questions:

    how many people have the same problem. the question here is not aimed at introversion versus extroversion, but rather at rationality regardless of type and behavior towards people.

    ...which brings me to my second question:

    how do you take (constructive) criticism? i would prefer more specific answers, particularly a more in-depth view into why you either don't mind it or get psychically hurt from it. what is it that hurts you? what is it that makes you understand? do you ignore it? is there a way for improvement without going into the minefield that are social norms?
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  2. #2
    darkened dreams Array labyrinthine's Avatar
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    If the criticism is coming from someone who knows what they are talking about then I accept it with appreciation. The presumption of being in a position to critique is another story. If someone doesn't understand a particular skill or process, but for some reason has assumed they know the better way, then I usually just listen, but tend to avoid them as someone who has a need to prove something without having the chops to back it up.

    I am flexible in the constructive criticism I offer, and work as a teacher so it is a daily event. Each person has a different tolerance level and way of interpreting words. I usually start with something positive about their work, and then make specific suggestions for improvement with an explanation as to why it will produce a better outcome. If possible I try to suggest multiple ways of solving the problem so the person can make a choice and feel a sense of ownership over the process. It is important that the criticism be specific, with a suggested means for improvement, and with a show of confidence in the person's ability to make the correction. Even if the solution is obvious to me, it is important to always supply a complete and reasoned explanation as to why the improvement is being suggested. No one should take my word for it. Each person deserves to be convinced of the necessity of the suggestion.
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  3. #3
    mod love baby... Array Lady_X's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    okay...first i'll start by saying that i hate criticism of any kind initially because well who wants to be told what they're doing is less than...right? yeah...hate that.

    but...if i respect, value and trust them and know it's coming from a loving supportive place then i can take it and after accepting the fact that they are right...if they are right...then i can certainly learn from it and use it to better the situation...and i'd honestly rather know than appreciate it truly.

    but...i can full on read the true intention so criticism...masked as constructive that's really more about illuminating faults to make one feel better...yeah i can tell the difference and i'm quite offended by it.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
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  4. #4
    Banned Array
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    Mar 2009


    I know I have a number of blind spots so I'm grateful for any genuine insight others may have to offer. Even in cases where the source of criticism is probably not one I should take too seriously, I will consider the criticism to see if there's anything in it that I can use. For example, when I write a philosophy paper I will generally read it to my mother before bouncing it off anyone else. She has absolutely no background in philosophy so she can't really offer a great deal of insight regarding particular claims/arguments, BUT she can tell me whether the paper itself is clear and coherent.

    As far as giving criticism, I generally avoid it unless it's been specifically requested. I also might provide it in situations where it hasn't been requested but failing to do so will result in unnecessary pain or embarrassment for the person needing it. In the latter scenarios it has to be a whopping need however.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array Saslou's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Sentura View Post
    how do you take (constructive) criticism? i would prefer more specific answers, particularly a more in-depth view into why you either don't mind it or get psychically hurt from it. what is it that hurts you? what is it that makes you understand? do you ignore it? is there a way for improvement without going into the minefield that are social norms?
    At my last job we had to have performance development plans and other staff would get to judge your behaviour and attitude whilst in work and the outcome depended on the size of your bonus. Personally with work, i played the game. I said the right things to the right people. There were times i got constructive criticism but i didnt mind it. It wasn't like they were taking a poke at my character but in my style of work. I saw it as a good thing and continued to play the game and get very nice bonuses.

    On a personal level though, this is a difficult one. I don't mind my family telling me my flaws or weaknesses. If i think it will benefit me, then i will listen and i will work on them. If i have a partner though who i feel is constantly on my case with my flaws, i just block it out. I suppose i dont mind it on an occasional basis, but all the time. No, i am not going to listen. With a loved one, whats to say their view on my possible flaw is flawed itself. It is just people with different perspectives on things. Who is right and who is wrong .. either and or.

    I think it is also in the way that you approach someone. I dont mind people being blunt and honest. You will get the same constructive criticism back but it can be better to sometimes soften the blow. I don't want to hurt someones pride. Criticism to some people is a big deal.

    Funny. I think feelings should be kept out of it, but then put feelings in to not hurt the other person. Hmm.
    “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don't.”
    ― Georgia O'Keeffe

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array Clover's Avatar
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    Jan 2008


    If I think someone is doing something improperly, I just gently inform them and show them ways to improve. No need to be harsh about it, to let someone continue performing their task in an unsatisfactory or unproductive way and being passive aggressive about it isn't going to solve anything. If they choose not to listen to me, then it probably won't cause a giant dramatic conflict so long as I don't act like a know-it-all. I have never really had this problem with objects though, I can't really comment on things like how well a car is running or something. I yell at my computer and cell phone for sucking sometimes, but I don't think that really counts.

    Personally, I handle criticism really badly. I don't blame anyone for thinking poorly of me, but I am extremely hard on myself. Of course it depends on the situation, if I do badly on a test or paper I did not really prepare for or concentrate on, then I couldn't care less. "I know, I know." Same goes with a piece of artwork, if I spent thirty minutes on a painting or started my five rolls of film two days before a whole project is due, I don't expect anyone to praise me for my work, and I don't their criticism seriously at all. I honestly can't recall the events that have made me feel totally worthless and practically heartbroken, but I can remember the feeling pretty well, and it is usually short lived.

  7. #7


    I have no problem telling the members of my immediate family whatever is on my mind when I see that they can benefit from that. I often do that to the point of nagging. The kitten gloves are definitely off. These are the people I care most about.

    With other people who are not that close to me, however, I tend to bite my tongue and only speak up if the situation has elevated to the point where their behaviour is harmful for themselves or others around them. I try to put myself into their shoes and think about the possible reasons they might have to behave or do something like this. There isn't that much frustration involved because I tend to be either indifferent towards them or ignore them. It's their life, they have to make choices and live with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sentura View Post
    how do you take (constructive) criticism?i would prefer more specific answers, particularly a more in-depth view into why you either don't mind it or get psychically hurt from it. what is it that hurts you? what is it that makes you understand? do you ignore it? is there a way for improvement without going into the minefield that are social norms?
    I always mind when somebody criticizes me. I mean, nobody wants to feel bad about themselves. It depends on who is criticizing me. Whether they are people that I care about, who I respect or feel indifferent to. It also depends whether I know that they really care about me. Criticizing somebody just because they don't meet your standards is not my idea of constructive criticism and this I at least try to ignore. I can think about it for a long time afterwards, though.

    With the people I care about it is actually very hard to take criticism. They know exactly which buttons to push. It is unpleasant, for sure. Things might get overheated. The initial reaction might be to ignore them and try to get away from them as quickly as possible. I won't be able to completely ignore anything said to me, even if I try. There is definitely a lot of analyzing afterwards. There is also this feeling of shame involved when I realize that the criticism was justified. But this is only because I already know that they are right, even if I don't admit it at that moment. To have somebody else point out the things you already know yourself or you haven't even noticed before definitely hurts. But the pain is necessary for development and because I know these people care about me, the criticism is helpful.
    When people who I respect and admire (either professionally or otherwise) feel the need to criticize me, it is welcomed because I know that they want me to improve.

    When strangers criticize me: it depends on the situation. If the person is doing it in front of a large crowd, it is definitely unpleasant. Then I again initially try to ignore it and flee as quicly as possible. When I feel that the person hasn't bothered to get to know me, and tried to understand where I'm coming from, it hurts.

    I would prefer that if somebody feels the need to criticize me, they turn directly to me and discuss things in private and in a calm manner. I'm reasonable, I can take it. It's better to get things sorted out.

    Seeing myself through other people's eyes, from a distance, helps. I definitely try to figure out why they feel the way they do.
    People who are not that close to me but who are able to remain rational and not be too emotional, who present reasons why they think the way they do - these are important to make me think about their criticism.

    It is better to take some time to think about it. The initial feelings might be too strong to think straight.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Array
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    Jun 2009


    I don't have a problem with giving constructive criticism nor receiving it.

    I only bite my tongue if I think a person is completely abhorrent to advice; there's no reason I should waste my time expressing criticism if my thoughts won't even register. Generally, though, if I'm confident that my critique is well-founded, I'll bluntly offer it. I seldom tailor my honesty to someone's feelings if I think it will be useful, especially when the individual asks for input. I'm aware that I may hit a weak spot (everyone has them, me included), but I hold this view: Blissful ignorance doesn't counterbalance the prospect of improvement. On that note, I try to detach from whatever negative emotion I may encounter upon criticism and try to examine it from a rational point of view. If I'm able to see my flaws more clearly after I analyze the feedback, I'm thankful for it.
    Last edited by turquoisecat; 06-05-2009 at 11:37 PM. Reason: clarification

  9. #9


    It hurts, but I need it if it's not disingenuous. Do it tenderly if you can. If you can't, just do it.
    "There is no god; there is only us. Savage and fragile."

  10. #10


    I seek out constructive criticism as long as I know that it's from a position of growth, but that's the whole point of it being constructive. Having said that I will get hurt and it can cause me to mull over things for long period of times, but meh that's irrelevant. I just want to improve on how to be a better person.

    What I don't appreciate is being told the same thing over and over again when I already know about it. It ceases to become a case of telling me how to improve, but more a constant reminder that I'm failing to improve on the particular thing. You can never tell whether somebody is already aware of their own faults, especially with perfectionistic people who already critical of themselves to the maximum. Telling them their faults only serve as a negative reminder, it's no longer seen as constructive unless you give them solutions they haven't thought about before.

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