What is the difference between Constructive and Destructive criticism?
Picture the scenario: Your boss calls you into his/her office. The door is slammed shut and before you can sit down she launches into a monologue. You messed up the last assignment. Haven’t you learnt anything from her? When you will start using your own initiative? She can hardly believe that you hold an xyz degree in… You hope that she’ll breathe for long enough so that you can say something. You try to sneak a word or two in but she’s off again. She is right up close now and you are not sure whether to step back or just stay in the firing line. Her garlicky breath is overpowering but if you move, she’ll become even more confrontational. You begin to feel like an eleven year old and you nod in agreement, hoping that she’ll stop soon. All you can think about is escaping to your own office, where you can breathe again and perhaps even shed a tear. This “meeting” feels like it is never going to end. The words, “What have you got to say for yourself?” take you by surprise. Now, you have nothing to say. You cannot squeeze a single word out. She is indicating the door now. Thank goodness. You scuttle back to your own office, avoiding eye contact with anyone along the way.
Scenario two: The phone rings on your desk and your heart sinks. It will be your boss and you know you messed up. ” Would an eight- thirty meeting suit you?” Phew, thank goodness. That’ll give you time to go over the botched assignment and jot down some thoughts. “Come straight in,” she says as soon as your hand touches her door. Coffee is served and she waits for you to sit down, before pouring you some. You are asked to present your findings on the last assignment. Your boss is unsmiling, but she’s listening intently. She waits for you to finish, before she points out your obvious mistakes. You squirm in your seat until she finishes off by asking for your suggestions on how to tackle this problem in the future. The meeting ends with your boss pointing out the few things you did do well. She assures you that you have the necessary skills and she is confident the next project will be much better. Her handshake is firm and she stands up to open the door for you. As you walk back to your office, you greet your fellow workers along the way and resolve to tackle your next assignment with gusto!
Ask yourself one simple question for each scenario and then you’ll have the answer… how did I feel?
Constructive criticism is helpful and necessary. Destructive criticism is neither!