What is Constructive Criticism / Feedback?

What it teaches: How team members approach criticism and feedback can make a big difference in their success. This video explains how a team can use constructive criticism and feedback to accomplish a goal. Using a story about a robotics competition, this video teaches:

  • The difference between constructive and destructive criticism
  • How to provide feedback that is helpful and useful
  • Why it is important to focus on a person’s work and not their personality
  • How a team can be successful using constructive criticism and feedback

Video Transcript:

Hello from the CC Robotics Competition. As the teams are diving into the challenge, we’re seeing that team communication helps solve problems and fill the gaps they need to reach their goal.

For example, Team Orange is struggling. They have skills and talent, but can’t seem to get along. The problem is that feedback often leads to hurt feelings and defensiveness. When Neil proposes a new idea, his teammates dismiss it and say it’s Neil’s fault the team is falling behind. This causes Neil to lose confidence and tune out. Without Neil’s help, they’ll never win.

Team Blue, on the other hand, has made amazing progress because of how they communicate. They’ve learned to provide feedback that feels respectful and productive.

Here we can see two two kinds of criticism: Constructive and Destructive. Team Orange’s approach is destructive because it points to problems without addressing how to fix them. It’s discouraging to team members. Team Blue’s criticism is constructive because it recognizes problems, but remains encouraging and focused on the work required to be successful.

Here’s how it works. Each team member is different. Khalid is quiet and diligent. Toshi has high energy. Carmen can get distracted. And Heather is assertive. The team recognizes that a person’s personality is different from the quality of their work. To win, they focus feedback and criticisms on the work and not the person. That’s part of what makes it constructive. Often, that means learning to communicate with positivity and compassion.

Khalid was nervous before presenting his design. The team was careful to focus on the design and not his personality or abilities. This helped him feel confident and motivated.

When it’s Carmen’s turn, it’s obvious she’s been distracted and falling behind. Her teammates are disappointed, but don’t want to discourage her. So, they focus on positive aspects of her work and provide specific steps she could take to help the team reach their goal.

Toshi is enthusiastic and sometimes becomes a distraction to others. Heather decides to help and chooses to speak with him privately so he’s not embarrassed in front of the team. She is careful to focus on his contribution to the project and specific examples of distraction that causes problems. To help, Heather also described a situation where she was a distraction to others and how it caused a problem.

This made Toshi feel better. He was thankful to hear the feedback privately and agreed to tone it down. Team Blue is on the road to victory, because they developed a way to work together despite their differences. Using constructive criticism is their secret weapon for being a productive team that’s ready to win the competition.


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Last updated on 19th November 2021 by Eran Bucai

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