How to Criticize Constructively

To criticize means to hurt others if you don’t know how to make it constructive. It results in misunderstanding and upsetting behavior. Perhaps it may break good relationship if you don’t know how to deliver the feedback message properly. That is the reason you should be careful when giving feedback to other people even a close friend.

Don’t pull back your feedback, when you see people doing wrong things and you want to improve them. You probably can stop a problem growing bigger within your team. Personally, you may gain better relationship and trust when you make people see that you are trying to save them or their work.

For me, I can’t stand watching people I know going on wrong tracks because I believe that good friends help, encourage, and change each other. However, I do need the art to criticize people constructively.

To see better changes, here are some tips you should use to criticize people criticize constructively.

1. Focus on behavior, not the person.

To make people see their points to be improved, you should tell which part of their behavior needs to be modified. If you stress on who do things, they feel being attacked personally. For example, if you say, “John, you are careless,” it sounds offending. However, it would sound more positive if you change to something like “John, ordering wrong material costs us lot, so please do it more carefully next time.”

2. Be specific about the problem.

When you give feedback, avoid making general comments, but raise behavior to be modified specifically. General comments make things confusing to people and they don’t know which of behavior that needs to be changed. Consider when your manager tells you that your attitude is poor, you will feel offended by this generalization about yourself. How about being a bit more specific? A better way to give constructive feedback should be something like “Your lateness to work affects your performance.”

3. Give reasons for criticizing.

Find a good reason and show the purpose of your criticism. The primary purpose of constructive criticizing is to make changes and build individuals. This works well if you are talking to people you are close to. Another reason to give feedback is to raise concern on interest and well-being of team as a whole- explain that they have great impacts on team’s success. People listen and accept changes as long as they understand your purpose clearly.

4. Use a neutral tone of voice.

Suppose that one of employees did serious thing affecting you and company. If you realize that you are not in a good mood because of the problem, make sure you are calm before giving comments to other people. Take a break and find other time to talk when you feel better. If you are not good at using neutral tone of voice, alternatively you may consider email writing. This way you can hide your aggressive tone of voice if you can’t manage to be friendly with them. In addition, you have enough time to be calm through positive words in your email.

5. Keep it short.

Criticism is painful to hear for people in general because they don’t like to hear their weak points discussed, so keep it as short as possible. The more you discuss their weak points, the more misunderstand they might have on you.

Of course, to criticize constructively is not an easy job to do, so you need real art to deliver the message. People don’t like to be judged by others. Therefore, you should build each other because you don’t know how long you will be working with your colleagues, supervisors and bosses. Remember that people grow with motivation and encouragement, but not with hurting, destructive words.

Your turn!

How do you give feedback to people who work with you?

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