Whenever a person tells me they have constructive criticism for me, I feel like an abused animal cowering in the corner of the humane society; I know I’m getting ready to get kicked again.  I just wish that person would be honest and say they have destructive criticism for me.  Beware of the destructive criticism that arrives dressed in the form of constructive criticism.

I’ve learned there are vast differences between critical thinking and critical people. I love critical thinkers but I avoid critical people as if they carried the bubonic plague.

While critical thinking is absolutely necessary to design or analyze an organization, a system, an idea, or a process, critical people are demoralizing and limit productive engagement.  Here are 5 differences between critical thinking and critical people.

1. Critical thinking identifies the problem and immediately searches for the optimal solution; critical people like finding fault for the sake of finding fault.

2. Critical thinking analyzes a process or system for the glitch that inhibits excellence; critical people point out who is to blame.

3. Critical thinking frames the issue based on cause and effect; critical people frame the issue on personal motive and affect.

4.  Critical thinking stays focused on the problem at hand; critical people run off on tangents unrelated to the problem at hand.

5. Critical thinking challenges the best minds to contribute to the solution; critical people alienate others with an attempt to make themselves look good.

Critical thinkers want to provide answers to a problem; critical people just like to complain about anything and anyone they can.

If you’re having problems with a critical person and a whiner, maybe these will help:  7 Types of Critics and How to Respond to Them and The No-Whinin’ Zone: How to Handle a Whiner.

How do you deal with critical people?

If you would like these essays delivered to your inbox once or twice a week, hit my “sign up for blog” button. I promise never to spam you or give your info to anyone else.

Image purchased from istock.com