Noun. the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes; the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.
I am a natural-born critic. I am someone who asks a lot of questions, who brings a lot of challenge and who strives to perform well. I am not a perfectionist, but I have high standards.
My MBTI profile is an ENTJ (only 1.8% of the world have this Myers Briggs personality type):
ENTJs are planners. Making decisions and having a schedule or course of action planned out gives them a sense of predictability and control. They are highly rational, good at spotting problems, and excel at taking charge. These tendencies make them natural leaders who are focused on efficiently solving problems.
In the Positive Intelligence Saboteurs Assessment I come out high on the Controller, the Hyper-Achiever, the Stickler and the Hyper-Rational personality styles revealing how we can self-sabotage.
On reflection, I tend to navigate external criticism instead of internal criticism. I have high self-esteem so I tend to be self-compassionate to myself. But as a confident and a candid person I often feel like I receive more criticism than others, because there is a sense that I can handle it as I am resilient. This unsolicited criticism can also often be unfiltered.
As someone who has built a network and created a visible profile, I have also opened myself up to more critique, and to more public critique.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received from a line manager was on being a natural disrupter. Andy the AHT who line managed me when I was a Middle Leader said to be that I had a choice: fly under the radar and go unseen/ be left alone, or put my head above the parapet, challenge the equilibrium and be prepared to be shot at.
This is an anecdote I share in the #IamRemarkable workshops I run on self-advocacy.
So, when I give critique I strive to make it constructive and objective, instead of subjective. I critique the problem, the process and the behaviour instead of the person. Reading and reflecting on Fierce Conversations and Radical Candor I have built the gift of feedback into my leadership repertoire, but I strive to give feedback that nurtures and helps people to grow instead of destroying them and tearing them down.
The thing about feedback and criticism is that needs to be welcomed, it needs to be helpful and supportive, it needs to be well-timed and well-framed. When I think back to all of the lesson observations, line management and appraisal meetings that I have done, I have made mistakes but I have always tried to be authentic and humane in my approach. I have also reflected on the bad feedback and criticism that I have received and used that to guide me.
Working in organisations where criticism was often a one way process has been an interesting part of the journey I have taken in my career. I have often got people inadvertently offside by being the natural critic on a team. I bring my questions, my challenge and my determination to be high-performing and impactful to any project I work on, but this is not always well-received.
I always try to be of value and to add value, but this is not always appreciated. Yet, working independently I now position myself as a critical friend to my clients, and the irony is that clients pay me to bring constructive criticism to help them improve and they really appreciate my criticality and thank me for it!
For me the thing with criticism is that it needs to be contracted. It also needs to be taken with a pinch of salt – we choose how to listen and to respond to criticism, we use it to learn and grow from, but we can also choose to ignore it if it is unhelpful and unsupportive.