Constructive vs Destructive Criticism

As artists, writers, and creators, we are often presented with criticism of our work. However, not all criticism has merit, and it’s important to know the difference between good (Constructive) criticism and bad (Destructive) criticism. 

We’ll begin with the good kind. 

Constructive Criticism 

When you think of criticism, you may think of someone offering tips or suggestions to improve your work. 

That’s called Constructive Criticism, and it’s exactly the kind of criticism we crave. However, Constructive Criticism can be difficult to recognize in today’s opinionated society. 

To make it easier on you, here are the traits that define Constructive Criticism:

  • Helpful and compassionate
  • Hopes to improve the work
  • Focuses on the product, not the creator (no personal attacks)
  • Offers specific, actionable tips
  • Often given by experts or knowledgeable people

Whenever you receive criticism for your work, check the list and see if it’s Constructive- or something else. 

If it is Constructive, use it to your advantage! The person offering it wants you to succeed, and they may have ideas or suggestions that hadn’t crossed your mind. So, use their knowledge and grow!

Destructive Criticism

The other side of the coin is Destructive Criticism, and (sadly) it’s the most common type of criticism in the world today. 

Instead of being helpful, Destructive Criticism will be:

  • Hurtful and belittling
  • Embarrassing
  • Attacking the creator instead of the product (personal attacks)
  • vague and non-specific
  • void of tips and other suggestions
  • Aggressive or angry

When faced with Destructive Criticism, remember that it isn’t about you or the quality of your work but a reflection of the person offering it. It might be coming from a place of jealousy, personal dislike, or a yearning to do better- none of which you can control. 

Thank them for their opinion and move on with your life. 

Giving Criticism

Now that you know the difference between Constructive and Destructive Criticism, take a look at yourself and the criticisms you’ve offered. Have you been helpful and compassionate, or judgemental and obstructive? 

It’s ok to have some Destructive Criticism in your portfolio (we’re only human, after all), but it’s time to do better. 

So, next time you’re about to offer some criticism, I want you to stop and check your intentions. Do you want the person to succeed and have specific tips or suggestions to make that happen? Or, do you secretly hope they fail? 

If it’s the latter option, I suggest refraining from offering criticism until you can do it in a more constructive way.

That way, you’ll be able to make the world a more beautiful place with some well-thought-out Constructive Criticism! 

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