How to Give Constructive Criticism

There is always room for improvement. No matter how hard you work, you can always be better. Sound familiar? There’s a positive way to give critical feedback, or often called constructive criticism. Construcitive criticism shouldn’t tear you down, it serves to inform and inspire you. Here are a few ways to give constructive criticism.

Think about why you’re criticizing them.

Criticism should not be a personal search, a way to relieve stress or an empty way to exercise some authority and increase your ego. Providing others constructive criticism is an opportunity to solve a particular problem and work together to bring about change. It’s not about complaints or harassment, but about helping others to work more effectively.

Don’t take it personal

  • It goes without saying, but one of the most important things to do when sending your comments is to make sure it’s not personal. Of course, criticism can be personal in nature, but you must argue that the person who delivers it distinguishes your thoughts from the work or behavior of your personality and what you think about it. Keep your criticism focused on the details you want to discuss and avoid the temptation to make judgments about the person or their work because of the specific comments you want to give.

Give feedback, not instructions, unless you know how to instruct them

  • It’s one thing to tell a someone that you’re worried about their eating habits, or that your colleagues who come to work late every week to work weekends. It’s another to tell the first one how to eat better, or the last how to work faster. Keep your critique on your observations and how they affect you, your relationships and your work. Do not try to solve the problem, identify it. Offer to solve the problem and to support the solution offered by the person with whom you speak. If you do not know how to handle your colleague’s work, do not try to solve it for them – they will simply acknowledge your comments and ignore you.

Specify the result you want to see

  • Instead of saying, “You should clean up your house,” if you talk to a dingy friend, be specific and say, “would not it be great if your home was better organized?” Instead of raising your hands and saying, “it’s crap” explain why you think so, and be clear about what you would like to see. Nobody will learn the first time they are given constructive criticism, but at least they are now aware of a problem.

Be kind

  • Whenever you provide constructive feedback, ask yourself how you can voice your comments as positively as possible. People have a hard time accepting criticism, so avoid being too harsh or ruthless. If you have difficulties, think about how you want to receive the same criticism. In the end, it’s about being respectful.

Pick the right time

  • Do not try to criticize someone in front of their peers. It is also best not to comment at the moment or shortly thereafter. Choose a time when the other person is not overwhelmed to give them constructive comments.