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Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron

by Rick Baker
On Jul 12, 2011
Objective, well-intentioned, well delivered criticism will still gnaw, rip, and tear thin skin.
Criticism will always gnaw, rip, and tear at thin skin.
That is a given.
The only question is: how will the thin-skinned person react as that thin skin rips and tears?
And, of importance will ‘motivation’ get dragged into the bloody discussion after the ripping and tearing of thin skin?
Yes it will.
Sometimes a voice will say, “You demotivate me” or something similar.
Other times the thought will be there, but it will be unspoken.
Regardless of who’s to blame, when skin is thin criticism will demotivate.
PS: Going one layer deeper, I think the 2 words ‘constructive criticism’ form an anti-oxymoron [which is a word I made up]. The words ‘constructive’ and ‘criticism’ are neither contradictory nor apparently contradictory. Quite the opposite: the 2 words appear compatible. That’s the problem. That’s why ‘constructive criticism’ is so widely used and so widely embraced as ‘good way to deal with other people’. Regardless, those 2 words ‘constructive’ and ‘criticism’ should never be paired. Together, they do not guide, they mislead.


Change: Creating Positive Change | Criticism: Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron

Comments (32) -

Rick Baker Canada
7/12/2011 11:30:34 AM #

“Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger.”        

Franklin P. Jones (1887-1929)    American Businessman

rick baker
4/15/2012 10:09:06 PM #

"You should resolve to discover some good, some bright side, some pleasing element, in everything and in every situation."

Frank C. Haddock
'Power of Will', (1907)

rick baker
5/4/2012 10:12:51 PM #

"And if we try to influence or elevate others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of our belief in them. For the respect of another is the first restoration of the self-respect a man has lost; our ideal of what he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become.""

Henry Drummond
‘The Greatest Thing in the World’, (1918)

rick baker
5/12/2012 11:03:17 PM #

“It will make all the difference in the world to you whether you are with people who are watching for ability in you, people who believe in, encourage, and praise you, or whether you are with those who are forever breaking your idols, blasting your hopes, and throwing cold water on your aspirations.”

Orison Swett Marden
‘Pushing to the Front’, (1911)

rick baker
6/13/2012 10:03:10 PM #

"The foolish man accuses others and justifies himself; but he who is becoming wise justifies others and accuses himself."

James Allen
'From Passion to Peace' (1910)

9/12/2012 9:23:04 PM #

I have always had the stance that the phrase constructive criticism doesn't make any sense. It is used in place of giving negative criticism, when that is not really criticism either. That is just being as asshole. I think it is a word made up by people who can't take criticism, the practice of judging the merits and faults of something or someone in an intelligible (or articulate) way(wikipedia).

rick baker
11/25/2012 7:48:43 PM #

"The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."

Theodore Roosevelt

rick baker
2/3/2013 9:53:50 PM #

"I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough."

Mark Twain

rick baker
6/29/2013 12:39:00 PM #

“The criticism of the world is bitter only to those who cannot compel room for their ideas. It is fear of this criticism that causes many ideas to fail to see the light of day.”

Charles F. Haanel
‘The Master Key’, (1912?)

rick baker
8/12/2013 11:35:39 PM #

"Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances."

Abraham Lincoln

rick baker
8/13/2013 9:24:19 PM #

"Don't find fault, find a remedy."

Henry Ford
American Industrialist, (1863–1947)

rick baker
8/14/2013 10:34:50 PM #

"Every obnoxious act is a cry for help."

Zig Ziglar
American Author, Salesman, & Motivational Speaker, (1926-2012)

rick baker
3/8/2014 12:38:12 PM #

"Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets."

Rudyard Kipling

rick baker
4/6/2014 10:04:08 PM #

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."

Benjamin Franklin

rick baker
2/1/2015 6:29:19 PM #

"Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity."

Samuel Johnson
English Writer (1709-1784)

rick baker
8/5/2015 1:38:53 PM #

"If the thought is constructive, it will possess vitality; it will have life, it will grow, develop, expand; it will be creative; it will attract to itself everything necessary for its complete development."

"If the thought is destructive, it will have within itself the germ of its own dissolution; it will die, but in the process of dying it will bring sickness, disease and every other form of discord."

Charles Haanel, 'The Master Key', (1917)

rick baker
10/26/2015 8:51:45 PM #

"If they've made a mistake, correct them gently and show them where they went wrong. If you can't do that, then the blame lies with you. Or no one."

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
'Meditations', (circa 180)

rick baker
12/12/2015 4:50:22 PM #

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Leader & Statesman

rick baker
12/12/2015 4:56:17 PM #

"Criticism is prejudice made plausible."

H. L. Mencken [1880-1956]

rick baker
12/12/2015 4:56:44 PM #

“Truth alone wounds.”


rick baker
12/12/2015 4:58:21 PM #

“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism."

Charles Schwab (1862-1939) American Steel-Industry Leader

rick baker
12/12/2015 4:59:14 PM #

“The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.”

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) American Self-help Author

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:00:15 PM #

“I criticize by creation, not by finding fault”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106BC-43BC) Roman Statesman

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:01:12 PM #

“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) French Aviator & Author

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:01:58 PM #

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”

William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) American (Inspirational) Author

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:02:44 PM #

“I never give them hell; I just tell them the truth and they think it is hell.”

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) American President

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:05:05 PM #

“Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger.”

Franklin P. Jones (1887-1929)American Businessman

rick baker
12/12/2015 5:07:20 PM #

"Criticism has the power to do good when there is something that must be destroyed, dissolved or reduced but it is capable only of harm when there is something to be built."

Carl Jung
Swiss Psychiatrist & Psychologist, (1875-1961)

rick baker
1/23/2016 5:07:23 PM #

"He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help,"

Abraham Lincoln

rick baker
1/23/2016 5:08:24 PM #

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winstron Churchill

rick baker
10/29/2016 6:51:54 PM #

"Big men don't laugh at big ideas."

David J Schwartz,
'The Magic of Thinking BIG', (1959… 2015)

rick baker
3/10/2017 9:40:22 AM #

"Whenever we focus on what others need to do we give away our power and let ourselves off the hook."

John Izzo
'Stepping Up', (2012)

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