Criticizing Your Friends is Hard

Image by spo0nman via Flickr

Everyone can criticize a Dell, a Rogers, a Bank, or any large faceless organization. But try and criticize the startup down the street. Criticizing your friends is harder than a big organization.

But even so, there is absolutely none of it going on. Even if it is harder, we need to do it.

Even if you write a whole blog post or a comment with the most appropriate ideas and in a critical manner, it’s a different game when someone you know is on the receiving end of it. We’re much more used to using our social media influence to bash the failures of the big guys, the Walmarts, Microsofts, and Pepsi’s. But what is it we lose by not criticizing, and by not giving feedback to the people we know?

Mistakes are still being made. Is it just taboo to point out the mistakes made by people standing on top of pedestals that the community has placed them on?

This may sound very anti-social or something that would be a stain and negative element of the community, but I disagree. Without it, we risk developing a culture of permissiveness. An environment where things without any control don’t improve, they just get bigger.

Feedback, continual improvement, and renewal (I’m tempted to use the term “refresh”) are fundamental to positive growth. Hell, it’s why Rypple exists (Though in my opinion Rypple is difficult to use in open feedback situations).

As no exception myself, I have a couple of people and companies I could criticize, sure, but the bottom line is that my own opinions matter much less than a change in the mindset of even just a few people,

Definitely just some incomplete thoughts on this. I hope we can continue the conversation though.






7 responses to “Criticizing Your Friends is Hard”

  1. kevrichard Avatar

    I agree fully with your post, if we don't let people know how they can improve how are they expected to move past mistakes and become a better person. I think criticism is very useful for people when done critically and presented in a way that the person can act on it. Too often criticism is hurtful and not acted upon because its an off the cuff or over generalized statement.

  2. Nathaniel Avatar

    Hey MalcolmGreat post and thanks for the shout out! I'm Nathaniel and I work at Rypple. You're totally right that's much easier to criticize a big faceless company than your friends, colleagues, or the start up next door. Since we all seem to agree that actually getting feedback is the key to executing faster, being more productive, and “improving” in general, the goal is trying to minimize some of the most common social barriers to providing it.That's what we try to do at Rypple; make feedback, brief, specific, quick, anonymous, and frequent…and help people ask good questions. Plain and simple.As you might expect, we *love* feedback ourselves and always appreciate hearing from our users so we can continuously improve our service. To that end, it would be great to get your thoughts on why you think Rypple is difficult to use in open feedback situations.I really enjoyed your post and I look forward to your insights. Thanks again, Nathaniel

  3. Malcolm Bastien Avatar

    Thanks Nathaniel, I'm glad you liked it, and that it appears I was on the right track as to value of feed back.You've convinced me to take another look at Rypple this weekend (not surprisingly 🙂 ). I would have actually talked more about the benefits of your app, but I just wanted to avoid this post sounding like a 5% piece about feedback, and 95% product promotion.This weekend while I take another look through Rypple, I'll also make sure to feed any more recommendations I have through Get Satisfaction.Thanks for the comment!

  4. Nathaniel Avatar

    Cool, thanks Malcolm!That is awesome to hear. We look forward to your feedback.Get Satisfaction is great, or you can email me directly.Cheers,Nathaniel

  5. Ollie Saunders Avatar

    In many cases criticism directed at people or their work will piss them off. They will resent you and justify themselves and their present course. Enemies can be made from critical comments.The problem is not giving criticism (people are full of it) but receiving it and beyond that the willingness to ask for it. But even then criticism isn't all grapes and berries. I naturally take criticism to heart. I deal with that by reasoning its validity — but some people can't do that. Sometimes criticism comes so thick and fast you can't reasonably process it all; sometimes you don't even want to receive it; sometimes you just want to live in a cocoon and allow your ideas and projects to grow with confidence. It's possible to criticise almost anything and to win an argument and be wrong.In a sense what you're asking for is greater maturity and openness. To the former — I support you. To the latter — handle with care.I make these opposing points in the interest of balance. I don't entirely disagree with criticism, which is fortunate, because I just criticised it.

  6. Malcolm Bastien Avatar

    Appreciate the comment Ollie and I agree with you completely. I'm not too familiar with the ideas concerning receiving criticism… Maybe one reason I completely the issues on the receiving end of the criticism. There so much more to be said about having the personality to accept feed back, and more rich personality traits are involved: being humble, having humility…It's true as well that the same criticism, delivered differently could damage the efforts of the sender unnecessarily.There's some stuff there for me to think about.

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