There's no such thing as constructive criticism.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Hurt
HBR article by Tony Schwartz: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/11/theres-no-such-thing-as-constr.html
The money quote:
Ultimately, we'd be better off eliminating concepts like "feedback" and "constructive criticism" from our lexicons altogether. They're polarizing, and mostly destructive. We need to think of these interchanges instead as opportunities for honest inquiry and genuine learning.
"Here's the story I'm telling myself about what just happened," we might say. "Have I got that right, or am I missing something?"
That's exactly what I intend to say the next time I'm inclined to ask someone, "Would you mind if I gave you some feedback?"
Can hurtful feedback be helpful? It's a good question not to ask a cat.
The receiver makes criticism constructive or not, by the choices they make on what to do with it. Remind me to show you my feedback matrix next time we chat.
I don't think we need to remove those words (more to the point, we can't), just get into the habit of framing our feedback in such a way that we avoid triggering the defensive reactions of those we're talking to. I've been doing this for some time; it doesn't always work but it is mostly successful.
One of the keys is to not just assume that you are right; You can often find me saying "I don't know if this is the right answer, but have you thought about XXX?" and "I haven't thought too hard about this, so I could be wrong, but what about XXX?"
Wez, that's good advice.
Frame the feedback as "what about this?" instead of "you're wrong and here's why".