Can Negative Criticism Be Constructive?


How do you receive criticism?  I guess you might be saying, “It depends upon who it comes from!”  Or are you saying, “Some people are just full of negativity geared towards tearing people down?”  And you might be right.  Many critical remarks contain darts manufactured to paint a defamatory picture of their objects.  But could it be possible that the person who criticizes you does not intend to cast a negative light upon you?  Could it be that the person is just offering their genuinely untainted opinion; no matter how unsolicited it might be?  …Yet, even if the person aims to break you.  Could the break potentially be a good thing?  …Whatever the motive; how do you receive criticism?

Your reaction to criticism is what matters.

Think about it.  How do you react to criticism?  We all react in different ways at various times.  …Some respond with silence.  Have you ever given a brief presentation, and then someone on the team that you are on, blasted your presentation openly in front of a group of people; and you didn’t say a word?   Your candid demeanor spoke volumes to the listeners.  …Some: no matter how rare; reply positively with an offer of appreciation; while others react to criticism negatively.  imageMost of us have from time to time, replied to criticism with a, “Now let me tell you about you,” response.  Oh yes we have!  If we didn’t say it; we most certainly thought it.  That tIt-for-tat mentality has crossed all of our paths; yet it fails to resolve underlying issues.  But the question is, “Why do we react to criticism the way we do?”



What do your reactions to criticism uncover?

Sometimes criticism can expose unresolved pain and uncover hidden strength.  Recently, I was in a conversation with a friend about her view of someone sharing their thoughts about her behavior.  The person’s comments shined a light on their perception of some of my friend’s less than lovely ways.  She angrily gave her opinion on what she deemed as their negative criticism towards her.  She said, “Rochelle I’ve been criticized all of my life. image I am not going to take it now!”  I heard pain and strength in her words and said to her, “All opinions are not intended to hurt you.  What if the person felt as though they were just trying to help?  Could any of the person’s comments actually apply to you?  And could it be that what you went through in the past is causing you to see an opinion through a lens of ridicule?”  We went back and forth on the subject.  Finally, she said, “I’ll tell you what; I don’t want the criticism!  Write about that in your blog!  You’re always asking so many questions.”  I laughed and said, “Don’t take your anger out on me.  And while you’re so busy fussing; actually I had started jotting down thoughts on criticism before you called.  Your smart mouth is confirmation for me to write a post on criticism.”

My friends, do you see criticism and reception or lack of reception to criticism in the above dialogue?  Can you relate to my friend’s mindset?  I know that I can, because I’ve been there.  Thus, the question is, “Can negative criticism be constructive?”

Can negative criticism be constructive?  If so,how?

How can criticism be constructive?  Actually placing the word, “constructive” with criticism seems oxymoronic.  Especially when you look at Merriam-Webster’s first definition of criticism.  It says, “The act of expressing disapproval, and of noting the problem or faults of a person or thing.”  M-W’s definition of constructive says, “Helping to develop or improve something.  Helpful to someone instead of upsetting or negative.”   ….Constructive and criticism together?  How can expressing disapproval, noting faults or problems of a person be of help to improve that person; especially when the criticism is negative?

When I think of the answer, it leads me to think of mathematics.  In mathematics, two negatives multiplied equals a positive.  Since criticism is looked at as a negative; negative x criticism can result in a positive or constructive.  …..Excuse my brief tangent; let’s get back to the subject at hand.  Think about it.   Negative criticism is someone’s opinion, and it is not always valid.  But whether it is, or if it isn’t; it can result in two responses by the recipient.  You can either allow negative criticism to cause you to quit or allow it to catapult you into improving.  On that note, I believe negative criticism can translate into constructive criticism.  Here are a few ways to make that happen:

  • When you have decided to develop a relationship with God, improve your entire life and pursue your dreams; and a dream killer criticizes you; use it to steadfastly seek The Lord in prayer.  Believe that better days are ahead.  Become more determined to walk in God’s promises; and just do it!
  • When you are on an assignment from The Lord and someone puts out negative press on you because they don’t understand your mission; realize the assignment is working.  Choose to shake off the intended halt, put on the armor of God (cf Ephesians 6:10-18), and press on.  do-not-give-up
  • When a loved one speaks to you about your noticeable lack of forgiveness towards a person, it helps you to check yourself and seek God in prayer about the situation.  I’m a witness that The Lord will show you those whom you must forgive.  (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5; Matthew 6:14)
  • When someone ridicules your job performance, your efforts to earn a degree or the ministry that God has called you to; the taunting helps you to pray and target in on what God has given you.  This also helps you to believe God’s Word. (Read the book of Nehemiah chapters 1-4). When Sanballat and Tobias ridiculed Nehemiah and the children of Israel and called them feeble, they had a mind to work and they kept going.  (Nehemiah 4)

My friends, thank you for joining me in these Monday moments of reflection.  I’ll leave you with these questions.  “Can negative criticism be constructive?  What are some scenarios in your life where negative criticism has helped you?  And if you are currently experiencing negative criticism, how can you turn it into constructive criticism?   Join me in conversation.  I’d love to hear from you.  We’ll talk soon.



Originally posted 2016-01-18 22:44:12.

Comments: 2

  1. Shawn Emefiele says:

    The only time negative criticism is constructive Rochelle is when you have a foundation to build upon. Everyone deals with it differently. The person who has an opinion doesnt always look to find out if their word will help or hinder the individual from being productive. Yes it has made me think…seriously

    • Rochelle L. says:

      Interesting response. Yet, I’m not quite sure on the requirement of “a foundation to build on.” Thanks for expressing your thoughts. Great insight. Blessings!

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