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Article -> When Criticism is Positive

Date Added: May 2015

Our world today is filled with many executive coaches and advisors paid to offer feedback to others. We have friends, leaders, mentors and co-workers who provide feedback. Yet, we often find ourselves unwilling to give or accept constructive feedback.

Giving and receiving critical feedback doesn’t seem to occur as often as may be needed; and if so, it may not be delivered as well as it could. What does it take to give or receive critical feedback?

Receiving feedback we don’t want to hear is typically more difficult. The words irritate us, confuse us and provoke us. The words make us dislike the person giving the feedback; and may even make us angry.

The person wanting to say the words knows how you may feel, consequently choosing not to say anything. If feedback is given, the person is judged as being too critical. Fear sets in because nobody wants to hurt someone else’s feelings, so nothing is said.

This even occurs with close friends or family. We have all seen many friendships or family relationships harmed from situations such as this. This type of feedback rarely brings encouragement and comfort, so why do it?

As much as I directly communicate with others and believe strongly in this type of communication; fear sometimes still sets in. This happens because regardless of how much I try to soften a message and communicate it better, it can still come across as criticism or judgment. This could be avoided if no feedback was given; however, how much integrity would we have if we always avoided providing feedback to others?

While I have a great deal of respect for people who directly communicate with me, I still don’t like to hear or receive criticism. Being told you’re not doing well and can improve is never fun. Even though the message may be true and relevant, it isn’t any easier to hear.

Despite this, we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should be willing to use our mouth to be honest with others, and our ears to listen intently to feedback instead of rushing to judge, dislike or criticize others for offering feedback.

Would you prefer a friend, family member, leader or co-worker who holds back feedback that would make you better; or one that is truthful and honest – even though you may not like what is said?

Although we must be tactful when communicating, shouldn’t we want to be around people who freely offer input to improve? These are people we want to call friends. These are people we want to seek advice, mentoring and leadership. People who are not afraid to be a voice of reason.

People who question current behaviors and current thoughts. People who ask how we can really improve and grow (as organizations and people). People able to face reality.

Sometimes, in order to preserve a situation, we need to speak our mind and provide honest and direct feedback. It seems change and improvement cannot occur without this.

Personal growth is about being challenged and receiving feedback we may not request, want or desire. While this may not be what we wish for, it is vital for continued personal growth. People may be reluctant to do this because of hurting someone’s feeling? In this instance, nobody benefits. Good feedback can be helpful to virtually anyone and any situation. The effect of not doing this is only negative.

If we have genuine concern for others, we should not fear providing solicited or unsolicited feedback. We exhibit our own grace and personal growth by doing so, especially as we continue to improve our delivery and tact of communication.

There is a saying, “only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Saying a word. Offering constructive feedback. Providing honest input. There is a reason this can provide us with personal healing, growth and improvement. These are relationships to seek and cherish.

David Yeghiaian is committed to leading people on a life-changing journey to being great leaders. Reach him at


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