“Constructive” Criticism – Don Charisma’s Opinion

Couple of years or so I’ve been doing this blog. I’ve answered 10000s of comments here, and many more conversations elsewhere on other blogs.

So whilst I wouldn’t say I’ve seen everything, I’ve seen a lot of the social side of blogging.


In the main bloggers here on WordPress are the salt of the earth. I am, and continue to be overwhelmed by the positive communications and people I’ve had the privilege to interact with here. It’s a far superior place to be than Facebook et al, in my opinion. But I do accept people have their own personal preferences about where they like to “hang out” – each to their own.

ADD to that plenty of contrast with other real and virtual social networks. I’ve blogged recently about a young man who asked my advice about the pessimistic/sceptical people he worked with. My advice, be positive in you yourself, and play the game when required, but don’t make the pessimist/the sceptic – “WHO YOU ARE”.

New bloggers – New bloggers DO make a lot of mistakes. I know because I made some of them myself. Many of the mistakes are forgiveable I feel, provided there’s charm involved, and humility. Being able to admit we’re wrong, and not desperately needing to be right, are endearing qualities in most people’s eyes.

Constructive Criticism

I’ve heard this phrase “Constructive Criticism” recently. What it seems to mean is having free reign to say what the fuck you feel like, wherever you feel like saying it. This is not “Constructive Criticism” to me, more verbal diarrhoea. It also demonstrates perhaps a lack of empathy and understanding of how other people work, what makes them “tick”. Empathy or lack thereof, I’m led to believe is part of sociopathy and psychopathy.

Also fake empathy isn’t the same as genuine empathy. That is – saying the right words doesn’t make them empathic, or you an empathic person.

What Constructive Criticism Is

Constructive Criticism is :

1. Helpful to the person receiving it. That means that the person receiving it also has a say in whether it’s constructive or not. If they don’t find it constructive for whatever reason, then it’s not constructive. After all how can it be constructive if they didn’t find it constructive ?

Example Not Constructive – “I just started blogging and I’m completely new to the internet and computers. I think your blog’s web design is shit, it’s not very modern and I don’t like the colours.” … Moron …

Example Constructive – “I’ve been a web designer for about 15 years now. You’ve a great site here. For me doing this day in day out, what I feel could improve it would be the use of ‘flat design’, it’s what almost all my customers are asking for.” … provided I’m actually interested in people’s opinions on my web design, this might be helpful, especially if I hadn’t heard of ‘flat design’, which obviously I have.

2. It’s generally worded in the positive. People tend to use positive reinforcement prior to making the negative part, if there is one. In instructing divers we’re taught to criticise in this way. My example is actually “more critical” than we’re taught to teach student divers 😀

Example – “Don, I liked the way you handled the topic of constructive criticism. You raise so many valid points, particularly in explaining what is and isn’t constructive. But for me you glossed over talking about sociopathy, a more detailed exploration would have been really helpful.”

3. The giver is an expert, or an expert in the eyes of the receiver. Or at the very least they are peers and consider each other as such. I touched on that a little in the example for (1) above. Basically I’m not all that interested in someone’s criticism if they don’t know what they are talking about. Knowing what they’re talking about usually mean they are easily recognisable as knowing what they are talking about.

Example – I get a comment from someone who calls herself “Auntysocial” (real lady I’ve spoken to) relevant to a social issue I’m discussing. She’s charming and polished in her communications. She has an avatar picture, and on visiting her blog I see interesting posts on social issues. I’d be interested in what she had to say.

Example – I get another comment from “Ihatemylife”, who blogs like a wall of words about how hard things are for him. It’s just one long continuous rant about how life’s so unfair, and how he hates just about everyone and everything. No avatar photo. Seems like a random anonymous blogger with nothing real identity wise. To be honest I couldn’t give a flying fig about his commentary on a social issues (or anything else), the guy clearly has no experience !

4. The giver has a genuine authentic positive reason for sharing their criticism. They’re rooting for you to improve, learn and become all that you can be. They may see mistakes in your work they’ve made themselves and learnt from (therefore empathic). They want to ADD to what you’ve written/created, not take away from it.

Example – “I’ve worked 25 years in customer services. You raise some great points, many of which I chuckled over having seen first hand myself at work. However, one of the most important things I learnt, which you didn’t mention is … bla bla bla …” … left on my post about “Customer services” and something that I hadn’t thought of, great that’s an empathic constructive criticism right there.

5. A problem/issue/difference of opinion and a proposed solution for it is given. I touched on that in (4) above. An “expert” knows what the problem is and also what they think is a feasible, reasonable or even elegant solution.

Example – “Don, I see you have trolls come to visit you occasionally – they’re annoying little critters at times. I was head moderator for a 100000 member forum, for a number of years – and believe me I saw every possible bad behaviour there. A blog gives you more control over comments than a forum – you didn’t mention just putting them in the spam queue, this would be an effective solution when you get someone attempting to troll your blog.”

6. Reputation I touched on already, but it’s worth mentioning on it’s own. So what others say about a person (and what they say about themselves) has an impact on whether the receiver will accept as constructive or not. Reputation IS VERY subjective, often a bit like a game of “Chinese whispers”. But it shouldn’t be ignored because people OFTEN refer to it when making character decisions about a person.

Example – I get a rude/weird comment on my blog, with a personal criticism – “Your shit donny boy”. I do some research online, and find out what he’s said and also what others have said about him. I discover many threads that he’s tried to troll, tried to embarrass or manipulate others, with many others complaining about him. My eventually conclusion is to leave a “non-comment”, or not reply at all. I filter out the comment “personally”, because there’s nothing useful or constructive I could see coming out of his mouth (or keyboard). AND everyone’s know I’m awesome, so he must be wrong 😀 Perhaps he was talking about “my shit” after all, rather than being an illiterate over friendly moron.

OR ALL THIS PUT ANOTHER WAY – Get yourself a copy of “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It’s the closest thing to a magic pill for charm that I’ve read.

Not Constructive

What’s non-constructive/destructive criticism is where the above constructive aspects haven’t been met. So no point in writing the opposite out in full !

It’s useful and helpful to study the archetypes who use destructive criticism, which leads me on nicely to …

“Blog Tits” – Destructive Personalities In Blogging

Blog-Tits-Graphic-DonCharisma.org-660xPersonally, I’m more interested in the whats and whys behind destructive criticism – so I’m doing a series on the personalities I’ve met along the way – “Don Charisma’s Blog Tits”

I’ll be introducing some of the personalities (“Tits”) involved who might try to make you believe their criticism is constructive, whilst actually having a negative ulterior motive towards you.

You can’t kid a kidder they say …

It’s the “who’s who” of who might try to pass off destructive criticism as constructive criticism. Underscoring that the intent of the criticism giver is a critical factor in determination of whether criticism is constructive or not. That’s partly why I’m doing it … AND …

“Blog Tits” appeals to my sense of humour, so more for fun than serious 😀

Blog tits was originally part of this post, but it was getting to be as long as the Gettysburg address, so I took them out, my tits that is … for you to enjoy later …

Coming soon on DonCharisma.org – BLOG TITS 😀

Dealing With Blog Tits

AS I ALREADY SAID THE MAJORITY OF WORDPRESS BLOGGERS ARE LOVELY, WELL ADJUSTED PEOPLE … it’s a minority of people I’m talking about who try to pass off bad behaviour (or whatever else their “game” consists) as constructive criticism.

Personally I generally err to the side of caution and take people with “a pinch of salt”. Assume that they are good people genuinely trying to be helpful. Generally that’s enough rope to let the unsavoury hang themselves, plus the genuinely good thrive in a positive environment, so it’s a win-win for me.

Sometimes, I can see right through a scheme from the get go, in which case I might engage for sport (thanks Auntysocial, that was useful !). Or more usually just walk away, because my experience is that their bad behaviour generally comes from their own past pain, which had/has nothing to do with me. Also I don’t really want to be a present contributor in making their lives more difficult than they already are.

Walking away is often therefore the right thing to do (depending obviously on the context). Although adult human beings do also need to stand up for themselves – in the face of tyrants, and others who mean to cause harm to us, our families, loved ones and friends.


Constructive criticism isn’t just whatever a person blurts out of their mouth, that’s verbal diarrhoea. There’s plenty of indicators of what is constructive criticism, but basically empathy and respect are evident, and an authentic desire to be of service to the receiver.

Constructive criticism depends on the intent of the giver, and also it’s constructive or not based on what the receiver thinks of it (or how he or she perceives it). Moreover, if the receiver doesn’t think it’s constructive, then it’s not, regardless of the intent of the giver. A humble and empathic constructive criticism giver knows this, and accepts it. “Fair enough” he or she would probably say, if his or her criticism wasn’t received as constructive.

Simple naming something “constructive criticism” doesn’t necessarily mean it is. It’s probably more likely that if someone had to name it as such, then it’s not.

A destructive or manipulative criticism giver will complain if you overrule (or don’t accept) their so called “constructive” criticism, and stress FIRMLY that their criticism was indeed “constructive”. Obviously that says more about them than it says about you … and also you’ve learned for SURE that it’s not a constructive criticism by this point, and probably an ulterior motive is in play.

So easiest way to call them out is to tell them it’s not constructive and see how they react 😀

Light the blue touch paper and retire to safe distance – you may be in for a display of fireworks ! OR not – half the fun is the not knowing exactly what their response will be, or how far they’ll go embarrassing themselves in order to cover up their true intentions 😀

Serious, moi ? … LOL … don’t be ridiculous, I’m a lover not a fighter !

Bottom Line

ULTIMATELY – when I’ve received genuine constructive criticisms, I’m very often eternally grateful, especially if someone taught me something valuable.

I’m also grateful for receiving what’s not constructive criticism, because I learn a great deal about who I don’t want to be involved with and how to see them coming in the future.

I’ve also found that my critics help me to add a little mystery and intrigue, with a pinch of “bad boy” to my reputation, which never hurts for us dudes 😀 … and they also help make great effortless blogging for me !

Over to you …


Don Charisma

Resources & Sources

Photos courtesy of Pixabay CC0/Public Domain
Unless otherwise stated everything here is (c) DonCharisma.org, all rights are reserved.

Notes for commenters:

Don Charisma Warning Improvised Writing

Comments are invited. BUT you are reminded that this is a public blog and you are also reminded to think before you press the “post comment” button. 

Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, non-argumentative, constructive and related, or they will be moderated. If you feel you can’t comply, press the “unfollow” button and/or refrain from commenting.

I read ALL comments but can’t always reply. I will comment if I think there’s something that I can add to what you’ve said. I do delete without notice comments that don’t follow rules above. For persistent offenders I will ignore you permanently and/or report you.

Most decent people already know how to behave respectfully. Thank you for your co-operation on the above.

Warm regards, Don Charisma


75 thoughts on ““Constructive” Criticism – Don Charisma’s Opinion

  1. ‘Constructive Criticism’ is so stale, so bromide, so passe. How about ‘suggestions to grow by’, or (but this takes skill) presenting a scenario in a lively and even humurous manner such that people are the first to laugh at their mistakes. Presenting an evaluation in this manner effects a lasting impact, a difference in their lives that effectively and enthusiastically motivates them towards personal empowerment and self-discovery. (This is obviously a ramble, but you know what I mean.) 🙂

  2. That’s a good post! You remind me a period of time when you speak about haters, trolls and some people who gave you a headache. It’s fine to read that you learn a lot from them and how you explain people of bloggosfera (I don’t know how it is write xD) to not be affected by their problems. I wish you a happy new year and all the best :D.

  3. I would like to give you a virtual hug and I would be interested in hearing more about new bloggers’ mistakes. Gracias 🙂

  4. Very well put. A good constructive criticism can be valuable in helping any writer, artist, musician, etc. grow. But it seldom comes unsolicited from strangers on the internet with no vested interest in your growth or well being, there’s that…

    I think I’ve also heard of what you’re calling “Blog Tits” called “Concern Trolls”. But I bet you’re gonna get a lot more hits from people on Google searching for “Blog Tits”…LOL

    1. And same Jenny, very well put, who’s overly interested in the opinion’s of a random anonymous person, who’s motives are unclear about our work and ourselves … about as insignificant enough to be categorised as “irrelevant” 😀

      I hadn’t heard of “concern trolls”, I’ll do a little research … this one wasn’t so much for Google, more for me to have a chuckle at and perhaps others will also find the humorous too 😀 … You can tell if I’m writing for Google the title might read something like :

      “5 Tips On Writing Intelligent Spam”

      “Mums the word” as we say in England, don’t know if that translates into American-English !



  5. Well put. It’s always a pleasure to exchange comments and blog pointers with you, DC. As always, Best to you and yours in the new year- Incidentally, when is the new year observed in Thailand? 🙂

    1. Thanks, and same Kassey 😀 … from memory it’s the same New Year as in the west (even though Thais are 500 years in the future, currently it’s the year 2557 I think in Thailand) … Chinese have a different new year that’s a week (or two?) afterwards …

  6. Thanks for posting this, Don! I’m struggling with giving good, constructive criticisms because I always fear that I could offend others. I’ll keep your post in mind and will hopefully improve in this field.

    1. You’re welcome … and yes it’s not necessarily easy to know how to helpfully give feedback … if you know the people a bit, then that might give clues to how they’d like criticism presented … I think be prepared to make mistakes whilst your learning, and have an apology ready just in case … most people who’re actually wanting to learn something will respond very positively to constructive criticism.

      You also need to be aware of if it’s a group or private conversation. Reason is the embarrassment someone might feel is amplified when there’s an audience …

  7. LOL! That was really cute.

    Blogging is quite an adventure, sometimes you get a peek into the human psyche and you’re like, woah, put that thing away, it’s dark and scary up there! Sometimes our critics inadvertently reveal things about their own selves that I don’t even want to know 😉

  8. I agree Donn. Criticism does say a lot about the giver than it does the receiver. Givers of negative or unconstructive criticism, in most cases, have personal problems or frustrations hence strive to make those they come in contact with miserable too, it’s like the reciever is responsible for their squabbles with life. Whereas, positive criticism outflows from a psycho-socially stable individual. I love this piece brother. HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2015. Let the charisma keep flowing. 😀

  9. Constructive criticism about non-constructive criticism and a great post. It is particularly relevant for anyone who reviews books and posts the reviews online. As a reviewer, you must be constructive – find the strengths of the book and also offer some constructive criticism on how it might be improved.
    You have remarkable strength to be able to take negative comments from your blog and turn them into a positive posts.

    1. Absolutely, a review that’s all negative will start to sound like a rant pretty quickly, and that’s not very balanced ! … So yes do definitely need to find something one likes if one wants to do a review 😀

      I’m not perfect by a long chalk, but do my best to try and turn negatives in positives where I can … if all else fails find the humour 😀

      And yes I haven’t thought of it as “Constructive criticism about non-constructive criticism” … I don’t even know what the name for that is … I just watched “The Prestige” which is a film about magic, which left me wondering if the film itself was a magic trick … anyway, maybe there is a word for it, bit like the Babushka dolls, but not exactly !

  10. VERY nicely written article Mr Charisma… very good. Good outlook – good approach to keep in mind – I would only like to point out that… neh – nothing much to point out really – it is all there 😉

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks for also following my blog. I’m glad I found a Don of Charisma 🙂 #loa #charisma

  12. I can’t wait to read your post about Blog Tits. This one was great. I agree with you that it is a much more constructive space than Facebook and the rest in general – I can’t believe how energised and encouraged I feel after spending some time here!

    1. LOL, absolutely, it’s great here I love it !

      I’m putting the finishing touches to “Blog Tits” together, expecting to publish the intro tomorrow, and then the series of personalities over a few days 😀

  13. Hello! I just wanted to say thank you for your wise and honest words! It’s not necessarily easy to be a newbie in this bloggers world of words and rules, written as unwritten, that is.
    I must say though, I am quite positively surprised to find that there are so many polite and nice people out here (or should I say in here?) sorry if my writing is somewhat confusing, I’m not English, you see… Anyway, the best way is, at least for me, to avoid all people who try to make me feel small, and to focus on the well-meaning and positive people instead. I follow that line in the real life too, and for many of us, life is complicated enough as it is. There is no need to battle strangers and their ghosts, instead we need to choose what is worth fighting for!
    Tussila wishes you a Happy New Year!

    1. LOL 😀 … you’re English is perfect for me, I completely understood you … it’s interesting because I have comments left by English speakers which I can hardly understand, so WELL DONE !

      And totally, life is complicated enough without having the burden of strangers who want to battle us and help them with their ghost …

      Very nice to “meet” you, and best of luck on WordPress, I think you’ll fit right in …

      Warm regards


      1. Do you know what, your kind words made me even more eager to continue pursuing my goal, which is to publish my book, I’ll just have to continue translating, and leave the camera on the shelf for a while…
        I just wanted to let you know, how we act towards one another actually has an impact, and in my opinion, you can be proud of the positive impact your sayings have on others, at least it meant a lot to me!

        Warm regards back to you


      2. I’m happy for that … my helpers-of-yore/mentors were all made up when they see me achieving my goals … I just do my best as and when I can, always nice to see someone moving forward …

        I knew a lady who took part in a challenge to write a book in 30 or 60 days she told me about … she said she actually amazed herself once she got going, what she was capable of and how quickly it came together …

        Camera I find is good for times when I want to be more visual … and photography could compliment a written work, depending on what the work is 😀


  14. Very well put. It’s almost like when you aren’t chosen for a job and you ask why. You don’t want to hear that because you are not good enough (in the tone of “you idiot”); better to be told what was good and what/how to improve the rest.

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