Here I’m playing with the difference between ‘critical’ in the proper sense and ‘critical’ in the coloquial sense.
Critical really just means to examine something and identify it’s merits and flaws, generally in as unbiased a way as possible. The common misunderstanding is that to criticise is only to point out the flaws (and not the merits). So it is usually seen as being a bad thing. This is quite natural because while you might think you are entitled to the very nice things I might say about you, you certainly won’t tend to appreciate the negative things. . and so you ignore the positives and latch onto the negatives. The same problem applies if I was criticising you, something you created, your business, your product… etc. If you are critical there’s a good chance you will offend someone. Hence the saying “if you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything”. … which is really just an example of taking political correctness to the absolute extreme.
Skeptics (or Sceptics, depending on which part of the world you’re from) deal with this problem all the time. Critical thinking is absolutely key to being a skeptic. If you’re not a critical thinker then you’re not a skeptic, plain and simple. So it’s probably no coincidence that the word ‘skeptic’ is generally mistreated / misunderstood in the same way as described above for ‘critical’. In fact, you may never have even heard the word ‘skeptic’ in a sentence which wasn’t uttered with a quick spray of spittle and a nasty tone. The poor skeptic has, in a bitter twist of irony, become the quintessential strawman that he/she has been fighting to rid the world of. Instead of being seen as the reasonable person asking for proof which is proportionate to the claim, the skeptic is instead the token spiteful wild-haired crazy-eyed nutter standing in your way telling you you’re wrong. And poor you… all you were trying to do is tell the world about this scientifically proven shampoo that makes you up to 15% smarter and teaches you Spanish by way of osmosis, which is a perfectly reasonable claim .. and did I mention that it was scientific?! yes, yes I did. Damn skeptics ! making your life difficult !