what is "constructive" criticism? | INFJ Forum

what is "constructive" criticism?

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by myst, Mar 21, 2010.

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  1. myst

    myst Community Member

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    I usually value trying to make others feel comfortable, but sometimes I'm not sure if I should be more confrontational or accept more confrontation. If it's a very momentary discomfort, at least, I think it's okay, but in a few situations I'm not sure how much discomfort is okay. Some people think I'm very sensitive, maybe too sensitive. So, my question is, how much "constructive" criticism can you accept from others and still feel that it's constructive rather than hurtful? How much can you give others? How do you know when to pull away from a person who is being too critical? How is it different in different situations or relationships?
    I'm sure there must be various healthy responses to this and I'm interested in hearing different points of view about it.
     
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  2. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Constructive criticism is simply telling people how they can do better instead of just what they are doing wrong.

    For example, I can tell an artist that their work looks like shit, and that would be criticism, but if I tell them the art would look better if they continued to practice, then that is constructive.

    How much is too much depends on the individual and has to be played by ear.
     
  3. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    if i can see that their intent is to be constructive and helpful, i can overlook the actual harshness of their words. for example, my dad, as good of a person as he is, doesn't realize when he's being unduly critical. but his intent is always sincere, and even though it hurts to hear him, because nobody wants to be made aware that they're not good enough, or that they're doing something completely wrong (in other people's eyes anyway), it's still nice to know that he cares enough to say something. it's true what they say, you know, when you really don't care about someone you will let them crash and burn, and will placate them with sweet words which will lull them into a false sense of security; it seems counterintuitive, but sometimes being critical can be the best thing you can do for somebody. just to give them a jolt of reality, to show them in an impactful way that how they're doing something may not be the best way for them. it can be enlightening.
    that being said, criticism purely for the sake of being rude and hurtful is not something i tolerate. and neither should anyone else, imo.

    again, very much depends on the context. if you know the person, if you trust that they have your best interests at heart, then give them the benefit of the doubt and hear what they say. if you don't really know them or don't believe that they are in any way correct, then it's probably better to let them go. tolerating unacceptably harsh criticism just because you feel it is the right thing to do by them will leave you feeling inadequate and in the long term, probably won't help you improve yourself anyway. know yourself, your limits, and what you're unwilling to stand for first, and such decisions will, in the future, be easier to make.
     
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  4. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    constructive criticism is when you are building up and not ripping down. Instead of saying a drawing looks shit, you need to say how it could be improved...
     
  5. Jasmine85

    Jasmine85 Regular Poster

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    Even so, sometimes the only difference is the choice of words, and we know what the underlying emotions are, and know that they have carefully selected words that aren't directly critical in an attempt to appear "constructive".

    If a person wants advice, they'll invite it. If they show you something they have made/done, that in itself is not an invitation for advice giving.

    The politest thing I feel is to ask them how they made it, how long did it take, did they enjoy making it, etc, and to thank them for sharing it with you.

    You can easily make hints that you have experience of making things like this, or that you have some ideas for what they can make next. The person will pick that up you have advice to offer, and will invite it if they want it.
     
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    #5 Jasmine85, Mar 21, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
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  6. OP
    myst

    myst Community Member

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    Thanks May! That's helpful. I think your Dad is really lucky to have someone as understanding of him as you are. I want to be more understanding of people who are like that in my life sometimes. The people in my life probably aren't even as critical as your Dad sounds but I still struggle to be tolerant of people who aren't very sensitive sometimes. Also, I think you described the heart of the matter where you said it depends if you trust the person who is being critical. When I'm not sure how much I trust them is when it's tricky... but maybe it could be helpful to think about it in terms of trusting them.
     
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  7. OP
    myst

    myst Community Member

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    Thanks Jasmine! I think that's a useful description of a helpful way to negotiate the amount of criticism that's useful to someone.
     
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  8. OP
    myst

    myst Community Member

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    Also, thanks to everybody for the ideas!
     
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  9. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I generally avoid giving any constructive criticism. Constructive advise maybe, or a another perspective to consider. It's usually in the mode of ongoing/deeper exploration than anything overtly critical. In the end all my opinions come from varying perspectives, even within me.
     
  10. Ria

    Ria Snow White over the ocean

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    I can relate to this. I think this is considerate, and a good use of Fe. It's important too, to check with yourself what your motives are for giving the feedback in the first place. Constructive critisizm from a place of love, care and concern, would reflect that, hopefully in the tone. I appreciate constructive feedback, but not if it's presented in an inconsiderate way.

    When I get a sense about something and feel I need to share something with someone because I want to be honest with them and have concerns for them, then I approach it in a form of asking them questions in a gentle and empathetic way. This way, I might be able to help them come to see things from a new prespective on their own. There is no need then, for me to directly be involved, but rather indirectly, as usually when we offer critisizm, it's actually a form of not minding our own business in my mind at least.
     
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  11. OP
    myst

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    Thanks Ria and randomsomeone!

    BTW, one of your blog posts made me think of starting this thread, Ria even though it was a kind of random connection. The situations I have in mind seem pretty different from the one you were writing about, but somehow my mind wandered to this topic.
     
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  12. OP
    myst

    myst Community Member

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    I'm thinking that the kind of feedback that's useful to someone depends a lot on them and I wonder if it has correlation to type. Any ideas about that?
     
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  13. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    From what I have seen I think you are right. And yes, it may be connected to type in general terms but, people being people, one has to kinda has to take each individual as they are and at the place they are.
     
  14. Jasmine85

    Jasmine85 Regular Poster

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    I can imagine type having a role, but there are two ways of looking at that:

    A strong S-type might be hopeless at giving N-type advice in a rational project, and any attempt to emulate N-type thinking may come across as over simplistic and not understanding deeply enough.

    But conversely, the N-type may have not looked at the project from S-type angles, so S-type advice may be more valuable, and who better to offer that than an S-type advice giver.

    So it comes back to the debate of similar personalities working best together vs complementary personalities working best together.

    I personally enjoy advice reflecting the personality of the advice giver. :)



    Example conversation:

    <N-type child> I'm making a 1:1000 model of our town for a school project. It involves a lot of mathematics working out the sizes and positions of all the buildings. I have a detailed spreadsheet to help me work out how much cardboard I need, and I'm sure I have enough materials. I have it all planned out.

    <S-type father> It won't fit it in the car, you should make it smaller.

    <N-type child> Hmm... I never thought of that.
     
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    #14 Jasmine85, Mar 21, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  15. under skies

    under skies Community Member

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    You know, when people are giving me "constructive criticism," how much of a right they actually have to instruct me in the subject has a lot to do with how I take it. If I'm writing an essay and my English professor who has a doctorate tells me how I can make my essay better, I'll put value in the criticism and understand that she's only trying to help me. Sometimes, however, when someone who I don't really feel is all that qualified is trying to give me advice, it gives me the impression that they, for some reason, think they know better than I do. And why? So I guess a lot of it has to do with the intent intertwined with how qualified the advice-giver is.

    Depending on the sensitivity of the person in the particular area, how hurt they feel when they realize you think they actually need the advice will vary. For me, honestly, any amount of criticism is going to sting a bit, but, as described above, it is a little easier for me to just suck it up in certain situations and use it to my advantage. But I'm more sensitive. Some people will appreciate any kind of constructive criticism, as long as the good intent is there, and some people will never take it well. I mean, ... it just varies.

    But back on topic. How much can I take? As long as it's a qualified person who does it gently and with good intent, I think I can handle quite a bit and handle it all quite well. Some random person off the street? If I didn't ask for his/her opinion in the first place, not taking it. At all. And if it's someone that is close to me, I would expect him/her not to try to fix or judge me unless I want the help or seriously need it. I don't know what would qualify "seriously need[ing] it," though. =/
     
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    #15 under skies, Mar 21, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  16. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Constructive criticism is where you critique the method a person used as opposed to the person. Examples:

    Regular Criticism: "You're horrible at playing the flute because you have poor tone quality"
    Constructive Criticism: "You have too light a tone when you play flute, so you need to use more air to get a darker, fuller tone."
     
  17. Gaze

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    This is a good example. Agree.
     
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  18. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    When you leave them alive. - - - /sarcasm

    What the others already said: criticize something not someone, as much as possible. The something is not necessarily incorporated indefinitely within the someone, maybe it could be improved. But the someone, as a full definition, is unclear and seems too hard to be improved. So better try step by step. Let's first attempt to correct this element. Later, more. And so on. The other nice feature: offer solutions, as much as possible. In a suggestive manner, not like it's the only way to do it, but show that there are better ways. Some people do not criticize constructively, because there's actually no preferable alternative. They just put you on the gun and expect you to find a solution. If there really is, then better mention it while criticizing. I know the counter-argument is that people should learn to think independently, but this doesn't happen by some miracle, it is also a gradual process of learning.
     
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