Constructive criticism happens when people care

Constructive criticism has always been a good thing, yet in recent years, people have become quite hostile when receiving it, often taking to social media with angry, flaming negativity in response.

The weird thing is, people only offer constructive criticism when they care about what you are doing; when they value your product or service. Why get angry when people care enough to comment?

It is rare that a system is perfect; that it is meeting all of your customers’ desires. All of the research in the world won’t compensate for evolving minds. As people change, systems design, user interface design, workflow design, and brand messaging, must change with them in order to remain relevant.

It’s when no constructive criticism is coming in that you should be concerned. That usually means people aren’t paying attention. If they’re not paying attention, it’s because they are looking at other options. Specifically, options that meet their evolving needs.

Constructive criticism is how people tell you what they don’t like, while at the same time providing a road map for you to remain relevant to their needs.

Since it’s constructive, you decide which parts are true, relevant, and need attention. Since it’s criticism, it ought to be offered with humility, and that’s where it can be flubbed up. If criticism is too harsh in nature, it topples over the edge of good taste and becomes offensive. Then, finding the important part becomes exponentially more difficult.

Taking constructive criticism in an overtly positive manner, with an objective mind, with active listening, with even keel, that’s the high road to keeping customers.

You might even float ideas out to those people who cared enough to offer their thoughts and suggestions, asking for their opinions and further feedback. That’s engagement. It’s free marketing and product development. It’s personal and it’s smart business.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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