Constructive Feedback Vs Criticism

Just something that I wanted to share. Inspired by a conversation with a friend where we realised that we had experienced some great coaches before but also some that had good intentions but lacked the ability to understand the riders current state, couldn’t aim towards goals and ended up being critical rather than helpful. It got me thinking, as coaches how to we make sure we don’t blur that line between being honest and constructive and being too critical? As riders, how do we learn tough lessons and take on board constructive feedback from coaches? As equestrians, in a sport where commentary is rife, how do we determine what is intended as constructive feedback and what’s just plain old criticism?

A friend who often imparts wise sayings on me, @christadillon3 once said “you will never be criticised by someone doing more than you”. It’s been a phrase I find myself coming back to quite often. When you are trying to grow and to learn and to achieve goals you will often leave yourself open to unsolicited feedback that may not be aimed at encouraging you.

I created the table attached for myself as a coach, a rider as a general equestrian. When I coach I aim to be honest and to help riders push boundaries while still trying to always work towards their goals and encourage them. When I ride I try to overcome my limitations and take on board what sometimes has to be blunt and honest feedback to help me to change and improve.

On the flip side, I heard a third hand comment about me a while back, it was a basic “will struggle to ride any horse at a higher level” one – so I applied my own logic – was it solicited? No. Was it said to or about me? About. Did it include any suggested positive actions to help me? No. Did it recognise any challenges I was trying to overcome? No. Was it trying to encourage or discourage me? Discourage. So I identified it as simple criticism and moved on and I’ve found this method a valuable tool.

What I also reminded myself was that what was supposedly said, was something I would say about myself so who was I to get annoyed? Remember, when you openly criticise yourself, you invite others to do the same – so stop 😊


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