The Critical Friend – to keep or to forget?

The Critical Friend

Evidence shows that criticism is helpful provided it is constructive.   For even greater effect, encouragement should go hand in hand with criticism. The environment for everyone should be nurturing and supportive. So why are critics sometimes perceived as being not so helpful?

Critics point out what is wrong and can leave others feeling bad about them. Critics are programmed to inspect, nit-pick, form negative opinions and share negativity more widely.  So what can help in a space where there are some critics?   Whether in a boardroom, when serving on a committee or being part of a staff team, it can help to see the best in others and presume good intention. Interestingly we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their impact.   If we find more out about the intentions of others, we may be able to shape   healthier relationships and resolve challenging situations.

3 ways for critical friends to see the best in each other?


  1. Do you understand the circumstances of others? We could try to balance criticism with empathy.
  2. Consider how can you can help and be part of the solution or problem you are pointing out. What can you offer for the good of others?  As you offer your observations, be non-judgmental. Can you support members of your team to find a solution?
  3. Be a cheer leader. Build others up as you offer help.   Assure your listeners they can be successful, creative, innovative and productive. Become a CEO – a Chief Encouragement Officer!

And if you are criticised?

Remember as long as you’re alive somebody will find fault with what you’re doing.   Brush it off and keep going Feedback can nurture growth and improvement.  Bottom line – be a constructively critical.   Offer your opinions respectfully, and lend a helping hand in moving towards approaches that work.