Feedback v. Criticism: Can You Tell the Difference?

criticism life coaching Nov 15, 2022
It was a normal Airbnb check-out until I saw the review put in by the exiting renter. “Nice house but bring ice,” it said with a four star rating attached. I honestly couldn’t believe it. My husband and I had poured our love, sweat, and tears into making this AIRBNB an excellent experience for the renters. From the medically fragile renters visiting local hospitals to families who needed a place to gather, we have loved on every single one of them through this Airbnb.
That four star review was a punch in the gut.
Well the review felt personal. After all, I was showing my love through this Airbnb. This was the moment where I found myself really thinking through whether this review met the criteria for criticism or feedback. I was seeking a reality check.
Those four stars weren’t judging me. They didn’t even move off the page.
Yet, I created a story around those four stars and made those four stars mean that…
I had failed.
That my effort of love wasn’t good enough.
A ton of my power was given to those four stars.
So I decided to meditate on the idea of criticism and feedback to create a framework by which to evaluate this review.
And I came up with the following:
Criticism is past-focused, rooted in judgement, highlights weaknesses, is deflating, and is designed to make the person giving the criticism feel better.
Feedback on the other hand is future-focused, rooted in improvement and growth, is empowering, focuses on problems/actions/events that can be improved, and is designed to help the receiver of the feedback improve a process, action, etc.
I had received feedback, not criticism. Magically the four star review no longer felt personal, but rather like a partnership.
Feedback is a partnership…a collaboration towards growth and improvement.
So now I ask you the most important question.
Do you give yourself feedback or criticism?
The way we talk to ourselves matters and reflects the way we think about ourselves. While our intent is likely always to help ourselves grow, sometimes our thoughts and words are past-focused, rooted in judgement, and highlight our weaknesses.
Can we instead offer ourselves the feedback that is future-focused, that helps us grow to become our future self? Do your words and thoughts about yourself reflect partnership?  I am using this framework to evaluate my internal dialogue and sharing in the hopes that it may be helpful for you too.

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