Why a Compliment Is Better Than Criticism

Consider the last time you were complimented and the last time you were chastised. Without a doubt, you felt wonderful when you received the compliment – and you felt upset and wanted to reject the criticism when you received it.

Your reaction to the unfavorable statement shouldn’t surprise you because it’s a human survival instinct to avoid being criticized. We obviously don’t want to be perceived as failures, so we’d rather close our eyes and muffle our ears than face any criticism.

However, there is a fundamental flaw with this strategy. To put it another way, by doing everything we can to avoid being judged, we enable ourselves to be trapped on a never-ending motorway of mediocrity.

Our growth and prospects are hampered if we do not receive negative comments and criticism from others. And in the long run, we’re not only doomed to fail — we’re doomed to fail spectacularly.

The Microsoft KIN is an example of how a lack of critical feedback may lead to a major failure. Despite its $1 billion research and marketing costs, this smartphone was a big flop when it was released in 2010.

Surprisingly, the phone was only on the market for 48 days. The issue is that Microsoft failed to thoroughly test the smartphone with the intended population.

Only after the phone went on sale did it become clear that most 15- to 30-year-olds chose Androids, BlackBerrys, and iPhones over the Microsoft KIN. [1]

Microsoft may have prevented the massive embarrassment and financial loss that occurred if criticism and comments from the target demographic had been received while the phone was being developed. As the example above shows, early criticism is a vital component of long-term success.

Excessive praise weakens your motivation

Criticism, in my opinion, is preferable to flattery. But why do I believe this? So, allow me to use a metaphor to clarify my reasoning. 
Imagine praise as a form of healthy nourishment in your imagination. No one would now dispute that eating a healthy diet is a bad thing.

What’s helpful for you in little or regulated doses, on the other hand, might be harmful if you consume too much of it. You might be surprised to learn that this also applies to your water usage.[2]As well as your fruit consumption.  [3

Clearly, too much food or drink can make us sick, regardless of how healthy it is. We require a well-balanced diet of nutritious foods and beverages for optimal health.

Compliments are the same way. It’s fine to get them now and then, but if they’re all you hear, they’re going to have a bad effect on your capacity to accomplish things in life.

Excessive compliments distract us from our original objective, which was to just enjoy an activity. We begin performing the action solely to receive ego-gratifying praise.

However, if we spend enough time in the latter, we will become enslaved by praise. Our incentive to finish tasks tends to wane when we don’t expect appreciation.

Consider a period when you were learning a new sport to use as an example. You would have lost out on being told what you were doing incorrectly if your coach merely praised you.

As a result, your capacity to learn and improve your techniques would have suffered.

Related: How to Handle Constructive Criticism Confidently

Criticism encourages growth

To be clear, I’m not referring to trolls or nasty comments; rather, I’m referring to constructive critique, which I refer to as “healthy criticism.” The feedback will help you grow as a person.

How can you know for sure that what you’re doing is any good if you constantly think you’re right but don’t get any feedback from others? Listening to and acting on candid feedback can reveal exactly what you’re doing well – and where you can improve.

This form of feedback makes you think about what you’re doing and how you’re working. When constructive criticism is used correctly, it can lead you away from poor habits and toward positive ones.

The right kind of criticism is honest feedback that will benefit you.

Related: Steps to Increasing Your Confidence

Grow strong through the power of criticism

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of constructive criticism, let’s delve into several ways that you can use it to boost your productivity and success in life.

Criticism is generally more actionable than compliments.

Consider this scenario: you’re learning to play the guitar, and your tutor compliments you on your first public performance: “You did great.” While these remarks may be comforting, they aren’t as helpful in helping you better as “Your timing needs some work.”

You’ll get detailed suggestions on how to improve your performance skills rapidly with this piece of information. (You may need to practice for hours with a metronome.)

Actively seek criticism by asking for feedback.

It’s possible that this will take the form of a question.

“What could I have done better?” you can ask your tutor (or other individuals who saw your performance) if you’re still playing the guitar. You could also inquire about specific details. “Did my playing in the introduction sound in tune?” for example.

Let’s face it, most people don’t know how to provide feedback; instead, they tend to make generalized statements laced with emotion. You’ll get useful feedback by asking precise questions, which will help you learn and progress more quickly.

Related: 8 Conversational Strategies to Increase Your Likeability

Take criticism with patience.

When dealing with criticism, I strongly advise you to do the following:

Be silent and pay attention.

To acquire a full picture and more points of view, try to listen to as many opinions as possible.
Ask follow-up questions.
Make an effort to comprehend what the other person is saying when they criticize you. Don’t make the assumption that they’re wrong right away. First, gain an understanding of their viewpoints, and then begin to process them.
Request comments for improvement, but remember to stay focused on your objectives.
After you’ve clarified the issue, ask for solutions, but don’t only strive to meet the wants of others. Instead, go back to your goals to see how you may improve while being true to your initial aims.

Take command of the situation. Select the appropriate individual. This is usually someone who is honest and impartial, yet only wants the best for you.

Rapid feedback is important.

When it comes to obtaining comments, speed is equally vital.

The sooner you hear feedback from others, the faster you’ll be able to figure out what you need to work on before proceeding with your goals or task.

For example, if you’re thinking about starting your own business, get some feedback from some interested pals. If you do this before starting your firm, you’ll save yourself a lot of time learning the hard way. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why Leaders Need More Interest in the Continuous Sharing of Feedback

Seek criticism instead of praise

The Power of Positive Thinking author Norman Vincent Peale said it well,

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.

How true that is.

Fortunately, you now have the tools necessary to shift your focus from seeking praise to seeking constructive criticism. And once you start using these keys, you’ll be able to open the doors to an entirely new method of learning, growing, and succeeding.


  1. Complex: The 50 Worst Fails In Tech History

2. Medical News Today: What happens if you drink too much water?

3. HuffPost: How Much Fruit Is Too Much, According To Health Experts

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