When you’re on the receiving end of either criticism or feedback, it can sting. However, it is important to understand the difference between the two so that you can know how to respond and how grow from good feedback.
Here are the six differences between criticism and feedback:
- What is the focus? Criticism focuses on the problem while feedback points to a solution.
- What is the tone of voice? Criticism usually has a sarcastic or harsh tone, while feedback usually has an even and calm tone. The person who is criticizing appears to only want to point out the problem and appears to not even want you to be better.
- Is the person using words of absolutes? Criticism commonly consists of phrases such as, “you always”, “you never”, etc. Additionally, their statements usually are pointing out what you have done in the past rather than focusing on the present.
- Is the person tearing you down or trying to build you up? Ask yourself if you feel like the person is just trying to make you feel bad about yourself, or are they trying to gently make you better?
- Does the person have your best interest in mind? Is the person someone who genuinely cares about you and whom you trust? If so, then it is likely they are giving you feedback rather than criticism.
- Would making the suggested change result in you being a better person? This is an important question to ask yourself. Not only would you be a better person, but would you also like yourself better? Would YOU even like yourself better?
When receiving both criticism and feedback, keep the following top of mind:
- Remembering that no one is perfect, and even though it can be embarrassing to have people point out where we can improve, everyone has room for improvement.
- Respond with gratefulness and questions rather than defensiveness or justification.
- Both can feel hurtful or embarrassing at the time you hear it, but don’t miss any opportunity to improve yourself.