Builder Feedback and Armchair Critic Feedback

I’ve been both an armchair critic and builder over the years. I started out squarely as the former. However, I’ve come to appreciate how hard it is to actually build and ship something that adds value. So, I’ve attempted, over time, to be as constructive as possible in sharing my feedback on something someone else has built. And, a principle I’ve attempted to live by has been to only be very tough on something if I intend to spend my time and energy to help fix it.

The benefit of having been on all four sides of the table (both as a giver and receiver of both styles of criticism) is that I recognize the difference between builder feedback and armchair critic feedback. And, the one crucial difference is tone.

The armchair critic feedback takes refuge in sarcasm and typically adds some version of personal attack.┬áSo, if I had to take a swipe at myself this morning as an armchair critic, I’d say – “Seriously? Is this piece of drivel the best you can do as an employee of ____/graduate of ___?” It is hardly every constructive. And, even if you take the time to respond constructively, it is never going to be good enough.

Today’s post isn’t about how to deal with this type of feedback as that depends on the context.

But, it took me a long while to recognize this difference. And, recognizing it has been helpful in tailoring my response to it.