I was recently asked a question on Quora:
Is there a difference between giving feedback or giving criticism as a leader? What are the main differences?
Huge differences. Most have to do with intent and desired outcome.
Criticism, in its simplest form, is for the giver, not the recipient. To criticize is one of the easiest forms of ego defense, and is generally a display of defensiveness and lack of personal confidence. We criticize most when someone aspires to accomplish what we cannot (or will not), or when their accomplishment could somehow threaten ours.
It’s acting out hurtfully with negative thinking.
Feedback, on the other hand, is principally to help someone grow and improve. To positively change a behavior for the better. In other words, it’s more of what we recommend they do, and less of what they did wrong.
Further, if we include some self-reflection in our feedback — opening ourselves to others — we both grow. Our blind spots will be forever blind without effective feedback from others, and people are more inclined to be open with those who have been similarly open with them.
The Johari Window is a great tool for determining how public or “open” you are to receiving feedback, which is crucial for your feedback to be well received.
The more I increase my “public” or “open” window:
–The less I am blind.
–The less I have to worry about keeping things hidden.
–The more I may discover parts of me that I like, which are hidden.
I can’t reduce my Blind area without help from others (feedback).
If I am to help others, I must learn to give helpful feedback.
This mutual feedback process builds trust and strengthens relations among teams, groups and even individuals.
In short, criticism is selfish, feedback is helpful.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
Great question, by the way.