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The Art of Giving and Taking Constructive Criticism


There’s a thin line between deflecting the blame and calling for equal accountability in both professional and personal life. One behavioral pattern I’ve seen evident from working at companies, and among family relations is that not everyone is necessarily open to criticism, including myself.

Imam Shafi was once asked “How did you attain such good character”, he responded saying “I listen to my critics and take their criticism seriously”.

In companies, senior management should set a consistent  for those they manage. If you talk to your employees like their insignificant or constantly expose their shortcomings in front of others, you’re likely to destroy the company culture and lose respect.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) instructed us to give naseeha (sincere ) to others privately. We should try our best to not putting people on blast, or so the phrase goes in the streets.

Each of us have an ego and shaytan exploits the spiritual diseases of the heart such as arrogance. I’ve noticed many times that relationships never go anywhere because there’s ineffective communication between two individuals.

5 Tips on How to Give and Take Constructive Criticism

  • Anger –Prepare yourself for constructive criticism from others, if you don’t your emotions will effect you negatively in the moment when someone does try to give you advice about one of your faults. Now obviously that advice has to be of importance in relation to an issue that will help you improve as a Muslim. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s) gave us a prescription in treating anger, which was to recite “Audhu billahi minashaytan nirajeem” which means “I seek refuge in Allah from shatan the accursed”.
  • Character – The believers protect one another and are mirrors to each other. Take that advice seriously, we should look at it as guidance, because the quicker we find out our shortcomings, the sooner we can correct ourselves for the sake of Allah.
  • Advice – Our beloved Prophet said : ‘The Deen (religion) is naseehah (advice/sincerity)’. We said ‘To whom?’ He said ‘To Allah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.’ Related by Muslim] Naseeha is a serious arabic word, it can also mean clarification/purification.
  • Saying it Right – If you want to deliver some constructive criticism, try not to hurt the persons feeling, choose the right time and place, be honest and keep your intentions clean and try to end with a compliment.
  • Dua – I’ll end with another quote from Imam Shafi (R)
 “Never do I debate a man with a desire to hear him err in his speech, or to expose the flaws in his argument, and thus vanquish him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently supplicate, ‘O Lord, help him so that truth may manifest itself in his heart and on his tongue. If it be that the truth is on my side, may he follow me; and if the truth be on his side, may I follow him.”

Well, that wraps it up like a turban. Till next time insha’Allah.

Please keep me in your dua’s for good health and baraka in my time.