Constructive criticism

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Constructive criticism is to analyze the work of others at their request, for the purpose of improving the outcome. Unlike criticism, it always identifies positive as well as negative aspects, usually including suggestions as to how to improve. In collaborative work, this kind of criticism is often a valuable tool in raising and maintaining performance standards.

Constructive criticism must always focus on the work rather than than the person. Personality issues must always be avoided. Constructive criticism is more likely to be embraced if the criticism is timely, clear, specific, detailed and actionable.[1][2]

Especially sensitive individuals may adopt a passive, defeated attitude if they view a situation as personal, pervasive, or permanent (see learned helplessness). Others may adopt an aggressive response. In an online forum lacking face-to-face contact, constructive criticism is unlikely to be possible. People criticize, ignoring or minimizing any positive aspects, very often unrequested, and without consideration for how it will be received. Effective interpersonal communication skills can be helpful to assess the recipient's frame of mind.

Adopting the most effective style of criticism should be tempered by the cultural context, the recipient's personality, and nature of the relationship between provider and recipient. To assess a situation, one should put out exploratory feelers and initially adopt a perceptive rather than judgmental attitude; conflict resolution skills can be helpful.

As a recipient of criticism, one can benefit by focusing on the constructive elements of the criticism and by attributing charitable interpretations to those who use strong language. By adopting an open attitude to criticism, one may achieve greater personal development and help uncover blind spots. Alternatively, such openness may be subjected to ridicule especially in a cynical or honor-based culture.

Assumptions of constructive criticism[edit]

  1. Criticism arises out of interaction, rather than simply action.
  2. Those who criticize need to value and invite criticism.[3]

Tools for constructive criticism[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J.R. Hackman and G.R. Oldham. Work Redesign. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc, 1980; pp 78-80.
  2. ^ Katz, Ralph. Motivating Technical Professionals Today. IEEE Engineering Management Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, March 2013, pp. 28-38
  3. ^ Walker, Gregg. "Dealing with Criticism". Oregon State University. Retrieved 13 September 2012.