Voicing Criticism in America


“I have the impression that Americans shy away from using criticism, be it in personal conversation or at work. In Germany it is accepted to express objective criticism when appropriate.

But in conversations with Americans everything is always great. On what level is it socially accepted to voice concerns or criticism in America?“


An excellent question.

No society can function well without it having a way to voice and address things which aren’t working. Whether it be within a family, a school, a religious community, a sports team, certainly within a company, the group needs to have a common understanding of what is and is not working.

“What is effective? What is helpful? Where do we stand? What needs to be improved?” These are questions to be asked, and answered, on a constant basis.

Merriam-Webster defines criticism as: the act of criticizing usually unfavorably; the art of evaluating or analyzing; the scientific investigation of literary documents.

So, certainly Americans engage in criticism. Certainly Americans are capable of giving and taking criticism. As are the Germans. Both societies are complex. Both are successful. Both have their approach to criticism. And both approaches work.

The key questions for their interaction as Americans and Germans are: What are the differences in their approaches to criticism? What influence (effect) do these differences have on their collaboration? How can they best manage that influence?

Voicing Criticism in America