Are You a Positive Critic?...It's in Your Best Interest to Be!

11/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Dr. Hendrie Weisinger Psychologist, consultant, speaker, author of Performing Under Pressure: The Science Of Doing Your Best When It Maters Most (Crown 2015)

A positive critic, whether giver or taker, is one who can consistently get the power of positive criticism. Since there are hundreds of empirical studies that indicate giving and taking criticism positively is a key attribute of successful individuals, productive organizations, and joyful relationships, it is in your best interest to be a positive critic.

Through years of research, clinical experiences, and training or consulting activities, I have observed five characteristics positive critics have in common and I hope, in common with you.

First is awareness-of themselves, of others, and of the importance of criticism. Positive critics are tenaciously looking to increase their awareness of themselves and others. They want information about themselves because they know it will help them navigate through life more effectively. Because they value awareness about themselves, it is natural for them to be receptive to criticism (one of criticism's chief functions is to help you learn about yourself).

Positive critics are also aware of others-their feelings, their emotions, their actions. Their awareness of others gives them valuable information that helps them mold their thoughts into an effective criticism delivery, often on the spur of the moment.

Positive critics also recognize the importance of criticism. They know its role in achieving individual and organizational success. Leadership, team building, customer service, performance appraisals, innovation, coaching, creativity is just a mere sample of work essentials that criticism powers-up.

Second, positive critics hold a philosophy that advocates that people are in the process of becoming their best. This implies that people not only can change but also want to do their best. Out of this philosophy comes the view that criticism is a tool to help people develop their potential to the utmost.

Third, the positive critic is self-responsible. He acknowledges and acts on the principle that individuals are responsible for their actions. In the case of criticism, he is aware that it is his choice as to how he responds to the criticisms he receives, and his choice as to how he delivers criticism to others. Because he takes responsibility for how he manages criticism, he is able to consciously choose the most effective ways for dealing with criticisms, both given and received.

Fourth, the positive critic is active. Accepting responsibility for her actions catalyzes the positive critic to go looking for ways to make things better. For herself, she actively seeks criticism from others, knowing that this input will increase her awareness and thus help her become more effective. Her behavior matches the attitude of, "Please tell me how I can do better. I want to know what you think."

She is also active in searching for ways to help others be their best. She offers criticism to others. Because she values criticism, believes people want to do their best, and sees criticism as a tool to achieve that task, she and her criticisms are perceived by recipients as having positive intent.

Fifth, the positive critic practices positive criticism. He practices what he preaches, and he does this as a culmination of the other characteristics. self-responsible. Through his practicing, he becomes a role model for other around him. He shows how to give and take criticism. Through his practicing of positive criticism, he further increases his awareness of which of his criticism skills can be more finely tuned for greater effectiveness.

But most of all, he has learned that it feels good to give and receive the power of positive criticism.