For anything to become greater, you have to not only identify its limitations. Whether it’s a team, a system or a product, it will never be any greater without it being critically looked at. ‘Critical’ has become a synonym, for mean or nasty.

‘Critical’, in our instance, simply means careful and objective analysis. You can be objective without being nasty. And, for those who are nasty and dismiss their nastiness in, “I just speak the truth… People don’t love to hear the truth”: the truth can be said without being nasty.

People, teams and organizations, love things that will make them greater. They love truth; they just can’t stomach the plate it is sometimes served on.

Unpacking what “useless critique” is:


Critique that doesn’t help is critique said or delivered in a mean way. Irony: when mean people demand being treated nicely. In fact it is the “meanies” who often demand that they are not respected enough.

Don’t lose the beauty of truth by the way you say it ~ @gregdarley

Critique given in a distasteful way, draws attention from what the critique needs to accomplish to the way it is given.

Useless critique is critique that draws attention from what it is supposed to accomplish, to itself.

More or Less

The man who started with the phrase, “More or less” should be locked up somewhere to never the light of day. Which is it? It is more or is it less? This phrase does not help much in amking anything greater.

If you cannot identify whether your next measure should be more or less, then you are stuck. If you use it, you make your team stuck; what are they supposed to do?

I Don’t Know How…

I know you’ve done this at some point in your life. (I hope you’re still not doing it). When it is time to give your opinion and you use, “This needs to get better but I don’t know… I just can’t describe it but…”

If you, as a leader, can’t describe it, how is your team supposed to make it happen? Non-specific critique will never make anything greater.

“Make it better” with no specifics isn’t empowering (Click to Tweet)

As leader, you must have clear sight of the future your enterprise is trying to create. If you can’t describe it, you can’t pursue it.

Good, Bad, Ugly

If you are going to use, “This is great, bad…” or other similar statements, say what about it you appreciate or do not. This kind of critique empowers others to magnify the great stuff and subtract the bad stuff in future initiatives. Say what you hate and like about something.

And, don’t be nasty about it…

What other critique doesn’t help much? What annoys you the most (besides being critiqued of course) when people critique?

Published by Blessing Mpofu

just a guy changing the world

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  1. Pet peeve: Critique that assumes someone (or their work) should be like someone else. It is a fact that everyone has their individual strengths and most can be developed naturally, but being like someone else does not make a person’s work better … just more superficial and internally destructive.

    Rather, find the seed of who they are and nurture growth.

    1. great points Karen. critique is useless if it doesn’t take into account the context of the person to which it is being given. critique based on assumptions never helped anyone either.