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  • Constructive Criticism or Compliments: Which Builds Your Brand Better?

    Why constructive criticism might just be my favorite way to make an impression and build your personal brand.

    A well-known tactic for asking a favor of a stranger online is to introduce yourself with a compliment to show that, while they don’t know you, you do know them. The small ego massage might also help you get the favor you’re asking for.

    However, the more popular that stranger, the more they’re likely to have been on the receiving end of many such requests and the less impact those compliments are likely to have.

    One standout tactic that almost never fails to get noticed is right on, putting it all on the table, constructive criticism.

    Why I love constructive criticism

    1) Most people don’t like giving criticism

    Giving a compliment is easier to do and you rarely risk any kind of backlash.


    On the face of it, criticizing – especially when it’s a stranger – seems brash and rude as a way to connect with someone. Which is why it’s much more impressive if you pull it off well (not as hard as you might think).

    2) Most people don’t like receiving criticism

    And that doesn’t even mean of the Internet troll kind.

    The implication behind any criticism, constructive or destructive, is that your work isn’t as good as it could be and the reflex (don’t worry- for me too) is to get defensive. But why? Who says that everything you do must be perfect on the first try?

    Once you can discern when the message is one you really should listen to, you’ll grow much quicker.

    3) Constructive criticism builds mental strength

    Constant flattery is like being a baby to a new mom and dad; everything is so cute and it seems you can do no wrong. Yet, with the first parental strictness comes the first tantrum, until the baby starts to understand the changes in tone. Similarly, the more criticism you hear, the more you’ll be able to know when it’s legitimate and when it’s not, when to listen and when not to.

    4) Constructive criticism has value that compliments can’t have

    Positive recognition is nice, whether it’s to your face, in a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile or in a reference letter. The thing is, recognition often comes when something is complete and can’t be improved, making you feel good and proud, sure. Good constructive criticism, though, teaches you and in so doing, helps you now AND later, leading you to get more positive recognition with it than without it.

    5) Constructive criticism is more likely to show off your skill than compliments

    A good compliment shows that you were listening.

    A good criticism shows that you were listening, analyzed what you heard, applied your skills and were able to communicate it back without leaving your audience feeling insulted.

    Unless they have a defensive reflex – and even then – they’ll immediately know you’re right, and will appreciate your message more than yet another ‘great post!’

    6) All criticism is a sign of success

    Getting people to react means engaging them. Getting people to spend a half an hour or more in response means really engaging them, to the point where the results will be memorable.

    7) Most people just don’t do it

    At the end of the day, most people just won’t bother giving you any constructive criticism. If they think of it, they’re more likely to file it away and move on, creating a personal brand-building opportunity for those few people who think it and act on it.

    So now let’s hear some- how could this post be even better? Tell me in the comments.


    Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.


    Jacob Share is the founder and SVP of Share Select Media, a company focused on empowering quality bloggers and blogs such as Group Writing Projects, The Original Home of Group Writing Projects. His JobMob blog has attracted over a million page views last year alone. He grew up between Canada, France and Israel where he had his first Internet experience in 1994 and was hooked. Since then he’s enjoyed playing a part in growing the Web as a manager-developer and project manager at Amazon.com and other e-commerce companies before starting up his own venture.

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    11 comments on “Constructive Criticism or Compliments: Which Builds Your Brand Better?
    1. avatar
      yinka olaito says:

      both have their values. But constructive criticism puts on the shape. It helps us to understand there are greater heights to cover and some stuffs to work on. Thanks Jacob

    2. avatar
      Ryan says:

      8.) It is the finest form of flattery. As you climb higher, more people want to help and more people want to take shots. Be inspired by both.

    3. avatar
      Kelly Austin says:

      I love getting constructive criticism – the well though ought ones. I just dismiss the random criticisms.

    4. avatar
      Bruce Bixler says:

      O.K. constructive criticism or compliment? I liked the outline but what is missing is specific example(s) of how a constructive criticism can or should be worded contructively. I use personal examples of my everyday experiences. And believe me there are a lot of examples of constructive criticism to choose from. (Self deprecating criticism there.)

    5. avatar
      Jacob Share says:

      Ryan- thanks for the extra point.

      Bruce- beautifully done. I quote you in this week’s followup.

    6. avatar

      Love any constructive criticism clearly designed to be improvement feedback. Take with a grain of salt any that are self-serving on the part of the criticizer. Sometimes I get English teachers (no BS) who leave a post on my blog to tell me where I left a dangling participle or something.

    7. avatar
      Vanessa says:

      I must say that I NEVER give criticism, constructive or otherwise. Having worked for a “conscious language” coach, I came to realize the impact our words have on the subconscious mind.

      However, while I never give criticism, I do think it is highly beneficial at times to offer constructive “feedback”. The word feedback doesn’t immediately put the brakes on a person’s subconscious mind to feel slighted. Also, when someone is giving feedback, as opposed to criticism, it is much easier to be constructive and stay in a positive light.

      Yes, it’s just symantics, but our subconscious response to words is what will spur us to respond appropriately or react irrationally.

      Just my .02.

      Live with passion and purpose,

    8. avatar
      Philip says:

      Constructive criticism means there is room for growth in any profession. In fact just last week, my manager asked me to sit in on a training session and respond back with feedback. Being new to the company, I gave a positive response and left out the negatives. Well, when my manager read the email, he immediately walks in my office and said; I wanted you to critic the meeting, so that the instructor can lean from this experience. I did just that and my manager was very satisfied, since he knew I had 28 years of Field Service Experience, that I would give suggestions and critic well enough so that the trainer can learn from. This was the right response they were looking for.

      Thank you for a good article.

    9. avatar
      Adrian says:

      Thanks for the constructive criticism tips. It’s so necessary to deal with it with tact. Sites like Vizibility can help people put their best foot forward in the job market when it comes to being Googled. Candidates should learn the tools they need to put their name on the top of search engines and be noticed for your achievements…criticized, revised, and all.

    10. avatar
      Jacob Share says:

      Karl- agreed. If the commenter is just showing off without adding any value, that’s self-serving and not constructive.

      Vanessa- thank you very much for pointing out this subtlety. It definitely is better to use the word ‘feedback’ instead of the harsher ‘criticism’. I’ll start applying that tip right away.

      Philip- perfect story, thanks for sharing.

      Adrian- please see Karl’s comment.

    11. avatar

      I do believe that criticism makes an individual to be strong in their life.
      when one overcome their fear at time criticism than we we complement them for it.

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