In the last post, I talked about so-called Constructive Criticism. And I said I thought it was an oxymoron and I didn’t see anything constructive about it. And by the way, I’m certainly not the first one to say that, but that being said, I also pointed out that I had come up with a Criticism Classification System which may very well be original to me in my usage of it.

So to review, those 3 categories of criticism are:

  • Opportunistic
  • Competitive
  • Vindictive

Remember, the first two are similar, where Opportunistic Criticism is seen in personal relationships and Competitive Criticism in business situations. They are both similar in that there is something to be gained from the criticism. An advantage, superiority, control, etc.

While I have talked in some detail about Vindictive Criticism, I suspect that most of you have known someone who used criticism against another person without necessarily having some evil (or as we say, vindictive) intent. I think that often it’s a way for people to deflect self-criticism, or in other circumstances to falsely portray themselves in a brighter light. Usually the plug gets pulled on that behavior at some point and things can get pretty dark.

But what about this Competitive Criticism? How does that work exactly? And if you or your business is the recipient, what can you do?

Well, first, you may be asking, what does it look like? And where will I see it? Well, one of the obvious public places is social media, right? What about public reviews?  Is this starting to make sense now? Has it happened to you already? If so, how did you feel about it? How did you respond to it, if at all? Those are all good and valid questions.

Have you seen a company go after a competitor by publicly criticizing them or their products and services in ads?

So, as I was thinking about this topic, I thought to myself, you know, I’ve opened myself up to criticism simply by doing a public podcast. I’ve gone way out on a limb there because I’m doing something different. I might even upset an apple cart here and there or even worse than that – I could be very successful at it. Then what?

How often have you seen a company go after a competitor by publicly criticizing them or their products and services in ads? But that’s just the most outward manifestation of competitive criticism. A deliberate, and well-planned campaign to discredit a competitor in order to gain a market advantage, can be damaging all the way to devastating.

I have often expressed my disdain for politics in general. But is there any better example of competitive criticism than in today’s political campaigns? I don’t think so.

But now that I’ve brought this up, how do you respond if it happens to you? Well, that depends on how vulnerable you are, right? If your business has a weak spot, (or spots) that can be exploited, you’re going to be on the defensive. Not a great place to be. A better approach is to be proactive before this happens.

There’s a couple of things you can do. Hide the weak spots and hope nobody finds them. The preferred approach, of course, would be to strengthen them. By doing that you essentially create a condition where the criticism simply cannot exist.

Now you notice that I’ve not gone into great detail in this discussion. That shouldn’t be a surprise to you. We’re building a foundation of basic ideas that you can be adding to your thought processes. Like I’ve said many times before, we can easily add layers of complexity to all of these ideas, but if you haven’t created the necessary foundation of knowledge, adding more complexity often results in the construction of, yep, you guessed it – a house of cards.

So now that I’ve called your attention to this idea of competitive criticism, maybe you’ll be watching with a more “critical eye” as they say. By the way, it’s not the same thing. But you know what I mean. I’ll get into more detail down the road on all of this stuff, but in the meantime, if you have questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to contact me. There are many ways to do that and I look forward to hearing from you.

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