Constructive VS. Destructive Criticism in a Relationship


Any criticism is painful even despite the fact that it sometimes plays a useful role. Without knowing that we are doing something poorly, we will never learn how to do it well. Of course, in a relationship, we want to have fewer scandals and offensive comments. We want our partners to admire, appreciate, encourage, and support us. However, there is nothing ideal in the world, which means there are always moments when partners criticize each other. To do this correctly and achieve positive results, it is important to avoid common mistakes. So, constructive vs destructive criticism – what is better?

constructive criticism

What Is Constructive Criticism?

What does constructive criticism mean? This is an analysis of a person’s activity. It is an objective statement of facts. It is not initially expressed in a negative aspect, and it is always justified why people think one way or another. And if people are not able to accept it and react negatively, then they can also receive a negative response to their inadequate reaction. And then the criticism can turn into a conflict, provoked by a person who doesn’t know how to accept it, and therefore, doesn’t know how to be objective.

It can help see oneself from the outside, through other eyes, recognize the real shortcomings of one’s activity, other solutions to situations or tasks, the usual things from the new side, position, etc. And thanks to all this, people can improve or change some qualities of character and change their attitude to something. That is, being able to accept such comments, people self-improve and change their lives.

Hence, constructive criticism is not only necessary but also useful. Therefore, if partners are afraid to express their objective opinion, not to offend dear people, they can’t help them learn something new, change something or find a solution to a difficult situation. But remember that it is important to express your thoughts in the right way so that a person will accept or reject it. Positive criticism is perceived by another person more easily and, therefore, more likely that he or she will hear you and take some action. Negative criticism is perceived as an accusation and causes an offense and anger in a person. And instead of hearing you, people start defending themselves or blaming you.

How to Give Constructive Criticism?

It is much more difficult than it seems to criticize correctly. If you realize that your desire to criticize is not connected with the desire to show your power, if you sincerely want to help your loved one become better in something, then it is important to find the right form. This form can help you bring your thought and draw the partner’s attention to his or her weak sides, and also motivate to change – after all, your goal is not to prove that he or she is wrong but to change things. And to achieve this, you should check out the following constructive criticism examples.

1. Start with a positive

Avoid conflict situations (phrases, expressions, and intonations that instantly translate the conversation into conflict) at the very beginning of the dialogue. Phrases like “Well, I’ve told you a million times!” or ponderous like, “We need to have a serious talk" immediately give a negative attitude. There is nothing better for the beginning of a serious conversation than a joke: a partner is relaxing and ready to perceive information without being shut by a shield from you.

2. Focus on solutions, not mistakes

You don’t need to spend time and effort on the explaining of why your partner is wrong. It is better to focus on what changes you want to achieve. In the end, most conflicts that slowly poison relationships occur because of nonsense, and 90% of the causes of quarrels can be easily resolved simply by focusing on finding a solution that suits both.

constructive vs destructive criticism3. Don’t criticize when there are people around you

What does constructive criticism mean? Look, if your partner has committed any wrongdoing, and you need to criticize him or her, then do it tête-à-tête, that is, without unnecessary witnesses. Remember that criticizing a partner in the presence of, for example, a cashier in a supermarket, you expose yourself to a barrage of negative emotions.

4. Don’t compare

If you constantly give an example of someone from your partner’s friends or acquaintances who seem to you to be more successful, clever or promising, then know that you slowly destroy your relationship by such an example. After all, people who are constantly being compared with someone from their environment feel inferior, and, therefore, unnecessary. Therefore, try to judge a person without unnecessary examples, which he or she perceives painfully and aggressively.

5. Don’t get personal

The golden rule is that criticism should be directed at actions. Therefore, if you want your comments to be adequately perceived, and most importantly, heard by a partner, then try not to get personal. That is, the phrase, “You are so indifferent” or “You are very cruel” should be replaced with, “Your attitude in this situation seemed to me too cold.”

6. Don’t overdo it

Facing constructive criticism in the workplace or relationships, don’t forget that before the portion of comments, there should be a portion of praise, which will allow accepting criticism not as a barb but as good advice. Therefore, before criticizing your partner, praise his or her dignity. For example, “You are so clever and quick-witted, but ... unfortunately, you didn’t cope with the task. I hope you correct your mistake. After all, for a person like you, this task doesn’t present much difficulty.”

7. Don’t criticize too frequently

If you have a constant desire to tell your loved one what exactly he/she is wrong with, then you have a serious problem. Either in a relationship (there are too many complaints) or in your perception of another person. Constructive criticism can’t be constant. So, if you notice that the desire to comment doesn’t let go, then dig deeper and deal with the reasons. Perhaps it’s not that your partner is doing something wrong all the time, but that your relationship is going through a deep crisis, which you need to deal with separately.

How to Take Constructive Criticism?

All people relate to criticism differently: some, in general, don’t perceive it; others listen, take advantage of it, and others get upset and so on. But how to treat the fact that you are criticized? What needs to be done to make critical comments help us, rather than upset?

1. Ask about it

The easiest way to find out what a partner means is to ask him/her about it. Feel free to ask questions! Why does he/she think you shouldn’t do this? What did offend your partner? Why does he or she say that? This way, you will have a better understanding of the complaints and the reasons for dissatisfaction. It often turns out that any comment hides strong feelings and resentment, and the remark itself is not the final goal, and in reality, a person is worried about something else.

2. Think over everything that is said

How to handle constructive criticism? Get rid of all emotions and think whether there is some truth in it. Maybe this is quite constructive comments. It is difficult to agree that you are doing something wrong, or your lifestyle is not the most suitable... But this is an important step to overcome the situation. Feel the difference: were the words spoken just to hurt you? Or can you get some benefit from them? Maybe the other person did a great favor, and you got the opportunity to become better.

3. Learn to accept the other person’s opinion, even if you don’t share it

You may not change your behavior because you disagree with comments, but receiving constructive criticism, at least accept that there is a different, permissible opinion, and avoid attacks.

4. Work on yourself

If you understand that there is some truth in the comments, and the criticism is constructive, then work on yourself. For example, “You’re right, I regularly strongly late, it seems that it is time to set two alarms so as not to oversleep.”

accepting constructive criticism5. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth and set boundaries

Feel free to tell about your feelings – it’s unpleasant for you to hear comments in your address, so explain what exactly hurt you and so on. Thus, accepting constructive criticism, you will protect yourself from tricks in the future and indicate what kind of communication you consider unacceptable.

Constructive Criticism Vs Destructive Criticism

The main sign of constructive criticism is the clear desire of someone who questions the rationality of your thoughts or actions to help you. That is, their words are designed to contribute to your successful solution of a task. Constructive criticism becomes possible when several important components are fulfilled.

  • Critics must be experts in the field in which they decide to give you advice. Perhaps these are people who have a lot of experience. Otherwise, all this is empty talk and destructive criticism.
  • Although none of us can be completely objective, it is still worth trying to be as neutral as possible about the situation. Only then it will be possible to look at it more fully. Accordingly, the opinion will be expressed with the greatest benefit.
  • Your words, thoughts, and actions are not evaluated in general (not on the basis of emotions, but on specific points, facts, and results).
  • It is important that critics can bring clear and weighty arguments, examples in favor of their opinion.
  • There should be no assessment of you as an individual. Only what you have done or said can be criticized. Your character, appearance, and behavior have nothing to do with it.

Constructive and destructive criticism is the opposite things. The main “symptom” of the second one is the lack of specifics and too many emotions. As a rule, critics don’t exactly understand what they are talking about. As a result, you understand that you are wrong, but it remains a mystery why it is so.

  • It is a big mistake to get personal in the process of criticism. As a rule, this is direct proof of the incompetence and also evidence of self-doubt. How to deal with destructive criticism? In this situation, the best method is to return the favor.
  • There is no specific. Sometimes people are emotionally involved in the process, simply unable to argue their position. Such methods don’t work. It turns out unfounded criticism, which doesn’t give the expected effect. As you can see, this leads to the opposite of constructive criticism.
  • Critics don’t look at the essence. If a very sensitive person becomes the object of unconstructive criticism, he or she can simply stop doing something at all. And when it comes to personal relationships, it is quite capable of just turning around and leaving. That is why criticism shouldn’t be destructive.

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