Criticism is Good

Yesterday I published a post (ok, fine, a rant) about people who sling unconstructive criticism at others and the effect it has.

Several people seemed to take that to mean that I think all criticism is bad, or that we should avoid commenting on other posts. That’s my fault – I buried this line way within the post (as, per the previous paragraph, I was ranting):

“As I’ve said before, criticism can be good. For that to be the case, it needs to be informed and it needs to be constructive.”

My concern is that there’s a big difference between these two statements:

“‘Company X’ did this. I don’t think that was the best move – I might have considered [change A], [change B] or [change C] to make [aspects D, E and F] better.”

“‘Company X’ did this. What a dumb move – who in their right minds would do that? Fail.”

One is constructive; one is unhelpful. One offers useful suggestions; the other tears the organization down. One builds; the other tears down. One makes you look smart and helpful; the other does the opposite.

Happily, the people who read my post and took that meaning from it (again, my bad) chose to do so in a constructive way and made some constructive points in return. For that, I thank you.

Criticism is good. Most people don’t receive enough feedback — the kind that builds and helps them to be better, that is, not the kind that makes an example of them. I know I always strive to receive more, as I know there’s a lot to improve. We just need to get better at both providing and receiving it. The aim of the last post was to let those who aim to knock others down rather than build them up know that that’s not part of the equation.

Make sense?


Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.