I think constructive criticism is great for self-improvement if given in moderate doses.

Sometimes I am getting absolutely none of it, and this makes me worried that things aren't actually improving. I sometimes end up inviting criticism by engaging in self-criticism... but this doesn't sound like I am building a great image for myself, in a world where everyone's self-advertising.

Is self-criticism a bad sign for my supervisors?

Would there be a better way to invite constructive criticism to find its way to my ears?

  • this is in the context of software engineering, I am referring to when there is a code review where my work is being reviewed by a peer – Hard Worker Apr 10 '15 at 12:56
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    Is this Q specifically about code reviews? Did you check e.g. programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/1224/… – Brandin Apr 10 '15 at 14:17
  • There should surely be a QA process for exactly this type of feedback anyway. QA is not just to get another set of eyes to check for bugs, but also for code review and asking for feedback on this and that piece of code. – Alec Apr 12 '15 at 1:30

I will give you a short story.

Last December I had a performance review with my boss and he didn't have any objections and basically said: "Keep up the good work." I responded that it would be beneficial to have at least some goal for the next 6 months and we agreed that one of the areas of improvement might be the documentation of my work.

When I got the review in written form it said something like: "Suggested improvements: Document his work better." I mean it is basically what we agreed on but the information that the criticism came from my side was lost and any other person just reading the review wouldn't know.

After this experience I think that self-criticism is necessary for you to grow, but you should be careful about going public with it. Most of the time it should be enough for you to acknowledge your weak sides and work on them. No need to unnecessarily disclose them with anyone else.


Learn the word "opportunity". This is current business-speak for "ways to improve." I assume you have regular meetings with your manager and others on your team? When discussing your work, ask them what opportunities they see for your project/tasks/work. I know it sounds hokey (because it is) but managers eat that stuff up. And it helps you avoid words like "criticism" and "improvement".


It certainly is not smart to say things like "I'm really bad at -activity-". That puts you in a bad light and you won't show much confidence saying it. People don't like people with too much confidence (cockiness), but they also don't like people who have low self-esteem or confidence (will get looked down upon).

If you're feeling you need (constructive) criticism to improve, that's not a bad thing. Ask others, or yourself, on what parts of your job you can improve. Then work on those parts. Always trying to improve yourself isn't a bad thing or something that's frowned upon. You're merely showing that you're willing to make progress and become better at the things you do.


Always invite criticism. You're trying to better yourself and asking for other's input, as long as it's constructive, will go a long way towards that.

Be sure of what you say, and back it up with your own knowledge and expertise, but shape it as an idea or suggestion and invite input from others. If they don't have anything to say, it's safe to say its a good idea, or they don't have a clue.

Don't put yourself down. You are a human being with thoughts that exist for a reason - don't be afraid to show others that reason, life is too short to worry about that.

Would there be a better way to invite constructive criticism to find its way to my ears?

Not really. Ask for input. Even when you're a speaker giving a talk at a conference, shape your talk as your experience and what you have learned; if someone shows you a better way of doing something then that's awesome - you've just learned something new.

Don't doubt yourself, because there is always a better way of doing things. You just need to be open to learning how - always. Revolve your mindset around this.

Basically, put a positive spin on your learning and be ready to get better at what you do with help from other people and their thoughts and opinions.


In your question you seem to separate self-criticism and constructive criticism. These two things are not mutually exclusive. Self-criticism is the source. Constructive criticism is only one type of criticism.

I would think, like Edwin mentioned,

"Always trying to improve yourself isn't a bad thing or something that's frowned upon."

If your self-criticism is constructive, then I don't see how your managers could frown upon it. If you're up for the task, maybe even do a self evaluation in the style of a performance review. Try and stage it at a mid-way point between when your organization does them.

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