Dealing With Criticism - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

business cpo education Mar 23, 2023


We spoke about the importance of criticism - especially the “constructive” kind


Let’s dig a little deeper.


Please note: We are going to be looking into both the giving and receiving sides of criticism as looking at both gives us insight into the other. 

Criticism - Good/Bad

The ultimate question will begin when we can properly define or distinguish between what is “good” criticism and “bad” criticism.

The key difference is whether or not a positive outcome will come from it.

So the truth is that it doesn’t matter as much about who it was given by and how it was given over. The bottom line is how will you take it and what will you do with it.

The real difference will come into effect when YOU are the one giving the criticism. Not everyone has the ability to discern properly between constructive criticism and dysfunctional & destructive criticism. Not everyone sees the importance of hiring or getting access to a mentor to help them discern between positive and negative feedback.

So for this purpose, we will need to dig a little deeper into how to deal with criticism. 


Here are some questions we need to ask ourselves:


  1. What qualifies me to give this feedback? (at least in the eyes of the receiver)
  2. Where is my response coming from? What emotions are attached to it?
  3. Does my ego (the dysfunctional one) play any role in this, or is this feedback honestly for the benefit of the other?
  4. What past experiences am I drawing from when I am coming up with this feedback?
  5. What is the desired, beneficial outcome that is hoped to be achieved when I am sharing my criticism and feedback?


Let’s go a little deeper into each of these criteria…




Who is saying it and what gives them the right to criticize? 


Imagine getting criticism about how you are parenting from someone that has no children. What makes them qualified to criticize you?

Or how about a marriage expert that sees a potential red flag coming from a person you are dating - are they qualified enough to give you advice or input?


For the most part, many people will have an immediate response that “of course, there is a major difference between the non-parent giving advice and the marriage expert.” 


When you are put in a position where you have an opinion about something or where you find yourself in a position where you feel the urge to criticize, ask yourself this question - “in the eyes of the person receiving the advice, how qualified am I?” 


The importance of this qualification is the determination of how the person receiving the criticism will feel towards you and towards the feedback they have received. 



How are they saying it and what is driving them? 


Now, let’s assume that the marriage expert is giving you marriage advice or is calling out a red flag - does that still qualify them to give you good advice or provide you with constructive criticism?

The answer is a shocking but not surprising “not really”


Just because a person is an expert in a certain area does not necessarily mean that they will give you good advice or criticism.

Let me give you an example…


When my wife and I were dating, we interacted with someone that considers herself a marriage expert. This marriage expert highlighted some “red flags” about me and said that I was toxic to our marriage. This very same expert had only nice things to say about a guy that was (at the time) dating a close friend of ours. The outcome: This friend ended up getting married to a narcissistic abuser and thank God my wife and I are still going strong.

One may ask, where did this expert go wrong?

The answer is emotion and ego.

This expert allowed her emotion to get involved. Something from a past experience that I just happen to have reminded her about triggered her and that’s what led her to criticize. She was offended by my behavior and thus her ego was hurt. Making me the “bad guy”. 


You see, sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with us, really. People are people (yes, even “experts” are human - shocker, I know). People have past experiences and people have certain emotions, behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes, all of which are beyond our control. What we do have control over, is our minds. Our ability to discern where is this person coming from, even if they are a so-called expert in their field. Do these people have all the facts, are they truly looking out for our best interests or are they allowing their prejudices or past judgments to interfere with their sound advice?

Turned out, that the marriage expert’s advice was terrible towards both our friend and us - nothing either one of us could have done anything about. 

Desired Outcome


What is the Golden Takeaway or Hidden Golden Nuggets?


The first part of the question is obvious, what is the desired outcome that the criticism is meant to achieve? If it has none - it’s clear that it’s not constructive. Was this criticism meant to truly transform me, or hurt me? Or perhaps the criticism was meant to protect the giver’s ego, self-interests, or something other than my true benefit.

However, here’s where the expert mentor can really come in handy…

Is there something hidden deeper?

Is there some hidden golden nugget even in this negative feedback?

Going back to that marriage advice my wife got when we were dating.

The criticism led her to seek other people’s advice and the other expert helped her realize a deeper element of herself. The advice that the first marriage expert gave was based on how the marriage expert knew my wife within a very limited context and not for the flexible person that my wife actually is. This was profound and life-changing advice for both of us, in fact, it was the basis of what got us to actually move forward with our marriage.

You see, the key difference between the two people giving advice was 


  • Marriage Expert #1 - had a limited and peripheral view of who my wife was and gave advice based on her experience, feelings, and emotions and how things might affect her. 
  • Marriage Expert #2 - Took the time to dig deeper and get to know my wife (and me) on a deeper level, moving their own selves from the equation. 


In conclusion, there is a key difference between when you are receiving advice to when you are actually giving it.

When you are receiving it you can ask yourself a series of questions and quickly discern whether the criticism is good, bad, constructive, or dysfunctional. You may need a little help from a mentor or expert to find hidden golden nuggets even in the negative advice or feedback that you will receive.

However, when you are giving advice and criticism, take a moment to walk through the very same questions and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How will they take your criticism? Where are you coming from? What are you hoping to achieve by giving this criticism? Will the feedback be well received by the other person? 


One cannot stress how important this is especially when you are in a leadership position and when you are dealing with all the different people that make up your organization. Provide valuable feedback and constructive criticism with candor and empathy, and just watch how the communication in your organization will skyrocket favorably!




Take a moment to think back to a time when you received criticism that really stung you deeply. What were the elements involved? Was the person giving you the criticism qualified? Did they allow their emotion or ego to get involved? What were they hoping to achieve by giving you this advice? How did you transform or walk away from that experience?

Now run this same exercise on the last time you criticized someone… Were you qualified? Where did you come from? What were you hoping to achieve? Did the person receive it well?  

Would love to hear your input. 



If you would like to book a session discussing how to elicit proper feedback that will help you grow your business, please reach out to Yermi Kurkus Consulting Group



Yermi Kurkus - is the co-founder of the Yermi Kurkus Consulting Group. With a family background in Entrepreneurship, a heart for community and philanthropy, and his love for psychology, Yermi dedicated his life to helping businesses thrive. Earned an MA in Organizational and Industrial Psychology and is in the process of attaining his Doctorate in that same field. Today, Yermi creatively partners with businesses to help them increase their value, productivity, and profit by focusing on their operations and talent. The results of this help facilitate the buying or selling of businesses as well as assist in the overall well-being of the workplace and workforce.


To learn more about Yermi Kurkus feel free to follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Or you can book your first 30-minute FREE consultation here.