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How to Give Constructive Criticism: 6 Helpful Tips | Personal Excellence

On Giving Constructive Criticism

Sharing and receiving feedback is necessary for improvement. If you have ideas on how someone can improve, don’t hold your ideas back, share your criticism constructively.

Of course, be sensitive to others’ feelings and offer feedback when you feel the other person is ready to take it. Else, you may come across as imposing your views on others, especially if you repeatedly tell them what to do without them requesting it.

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How to Give Constructive Criticism: 6 Helpful Tips | Personal Excellence

How to Give Constructive Criticism: 6 Helpful Tips | Personal Excellence

https://personalexcellence.co/blog/constructive-criticism/

personalexcellence.co

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Key Ideas

“People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way.”

A. C. Benson.

“People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way.”

A. C. Benson.

On Giving Constructive Criticism

Sharing and receiving feedback is necessary for improvement. If you have ideas on how someone can improve, don’t hold your ideas back, share your criticism constructively.

Of course, be sensitive to others’ feelings and offer feedback when you feel the other person is ready to take it. Else, you may come across as imposing your views on others, especially if you repeatedly tell them what to do without them requesting it.

1. Use The Feedback Sandwich

Also known as PIP (Positive-Improvement-Positive), it consists of “sandwiching” a critic between two positive comments in the following manner:

  1. Start by focusing on the strengths — what you like about the item in question.
  2. Then, provide the criticism — things you don’t like and areas of improvement.
  3. Lastly, round off the feedback with (a) a reiteration of the positive comments you began with and (b) the positive results that can be expected if the criticism is acted upon.

2. Focus On The Situation, Not The Person

  • Comment on the issue, not the person. Example, “The clothes are dirty” and not “You are dirty.”
  • Don’t make personal attacks. Comments like “I’m so tired of…” or “You’re so... ” come across as accusatory.
  • Use passive voice instead of active to shift the attention from the person to the subject matter. Example: "You were bad." vs "What you did was bad."
  • Share how it affects you instead of how bad it was to shifts the focus from the person and to yourself, which lets the person take a step back to evaluate the situation while giving insight to where you are coming from.

Why The Feedback Sandwich Works

The feedback sandwich lets the receiver know that you recognize what they did right and that you are on their side, thus not attacking them. The receiver then becomes more receptive to your critique.

The feedback sandwich method is most appropriate when you are giving criticism to people you don’t know or don’t know well. Otherwise you may come across as very aggressive and rude if you just jump right into the critique.

3. Be Specific With Your Feedback

The more specific your feedback, the more actionable it is for the one receiving it. Example: Asking for an article on communication is vague while asking for one on public speaking is specific.

An specific feedback that doesn’t target the person is easier to understand and act upon. 

4. Comment On Actionable Things

To help people improve talk about things they can do something about, rather than those out of their control. Critiquing the former makes your criticism constructive; critiquing the latter makes the person feel bad as they can’t do anything about it, even if they want to.

Understand the person’s situation and his/her objectives, then provide your critique based on that. And if you need to talk about something out of their control, balance it out by talking about things they can control.

5. Give Improvement Recommendations

Give recommendations on what the person can do to improve so they have a clear idea of what you have in mind and get a strong call-to-action.

With your recommendations, (a) be specific with your suggestions and (b) briefly explain the rationale behind the recommendation. Also, try to limit examples to one per point to make your case more impactful.

6. Don’t Make Assumptions

Provide criticism within what you know as fact about the person and the subject. Avoid assumptions as they make you and the person look bad — especially when your assumption is wrong.

Making Your Feedback Specific

  • Focus more on objective points than subjective opinions. Saying “I don’t like it” is less helpful than stating the specific things you don’t like.
  • Break your feedback into key points instead of giving it as one big lump.
  • Give 1-2 specific examples of each point. Don't highlight every single example. The intention here is to (a) make the person aware of things they may be oblivious of and (b) illustrate what you mean.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

9 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism
  1. Use the "feedback sandwich" method when advising. Give a positive comment, then the feedback that could potentially be construed as criticism, and finish by reiterating the positive. Th...
Constructive Criticism

However needed it may be, people often view criticism as hurtful and feel attacked. And that puts them on the defensive, meaning they won’t be able to truly absorb what’s being criticized.

That’s why constructive criticism is a helpful skill to develop when dealing with other people. Knowing how to do it drastically affects how the message is received.

Use The "Sandwich" Approach And Be Specific On The Expected Results

"Sandwiching" your critique between two positive things about the person's softens the blow, and avoids it coming off like an attack. The mix of positive and negative makes people more likel...

Give Feedback, Not Instruction

Keep your criticism to your observations, and the impact they have. Don't try to fix the problem, just identify it.

Offer to help fix the problem, and to support the solution that the other person comes up with. Unless you know how to do the work your coworker is doing, don't try to solve it for them—they'll ignore your feedback and you.

Give Kind Criticism, And Remember The Point Of It

The point of your criticism is to help someone improve, or to correct a problem, and your feedbacks should carry that message. If you’re doing anything but that, reevaluate whether you actually have legitimate criticism to give, or you just need to talk to someone.

Offer positive and specific suggestions to alleviate the issue at hand, or identify the problem clearly without talking about the person, just the issue.

one more idea

Getting Negative Feedback
Getting Negative Feedback

... is not the best thing to happen at work. It normally leads to a racing mind, emotional discomfort and increased blood pressure.

We may try to defend ourselves, or brush aside the feedba...

It’s Not Personal

Unless it is completely uncalled for, negative feedback generally has the intention of informing us about our areas of improvement. If feedback isn’t provided, you may not grow and improve. If no one tells you that you are doing something wrong, you will keep doing it wrongly forever.

Providing timely feedback may be a sign that the manager cares and wants you to improve.

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

One should not be defensive when provided with negative feedback, and understand that it is for our own good.

One needs to act on the feedback by approaching it from a neutral and objective standpoint, not taking it as a personal attack. Instead of reacting, just pause and listen. Reflect on the feedback, giving yourself some time and space to respond with a level head.

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Negative vs. Positive Feedback
Positive feedback isn’t the best way to drive results and negative feedback isn’t actually all that bad:
  • Any negative feedback should be clear and timely yet not so harsh as to be pe...
For feedback to be effective...
  • Be Specific;
  • Be Immediate: you wait too long, it can have less impact and make it harder for the person to grasp exactly what needs changing;
  • Tie Feedback to Goals: it gives the receiver a clear goal to work towards and reason why you’ve given them this feedback;
  • Ensure Feedback Is Actionable;
  • Use the Right Language;
  • Don't avoid it: when feedback is given openly and honestly, it can be extremely valuable for your organization.
Plussing
Is a way to provide feedback and critique without creating fear or negative feelings, branded by the animation studio Pixar. 

Imagine an art director giving feedback to an animator on some sketches for Pixar’s next blockbuster movie and instead of saying something like “but the characters expression is all wrong,” they’ll frame it using more encouraging and creative words like and or what if: “what if we could make their expression more (enthusiastic, brazen, etc).

Negative Feedback
Negative feedback is a more important component of the feedback cycle than positive feedback. 92% of people say in a study that negative feedback improves workplace performance.
Why are people scared of Feedback

Normally people react with caution and fear towards negative feedback, but it is much better than no feedback at all.

Informing the colleague/subordinate/client/customer or individual about something that is not working, is always beneficial, and builds transparency and trust.

Check how it impacts the person

The fundamental goal of giving feedback is to help the person you’re giving it to. They should realize that you are not trying to make them feel bad, and this is an exercise to help make them better.

How it impacts each individual is going to be different so a tailor-made approach is required. 

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Negativity bias and feedback
Receiving criticism will always have a greater impact than receiving praise.

And we remember criticism strongly but inaccurately. But although criticism is more lik...

Criteria for effective feedback
  • The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback is conveyed with good intentions;
  • The timing and circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate;
  • The feedback is given in an interactive manner;
  • The feedback message is clear;
  • The feedback is helpful to recipient.
Constructive Criticism

It's often the only way we learn about our weaknesses and without it, we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, we run the risk of missing out on this important insight.

Feedback’s not...

Stop Your First Reaction

At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. Try not to react at all.

Even a few seconds are enough for your brain to process a situation:  you can halt a dismissive facial expression or reactive quip and remind yourself to stay calm.

Remember the Benefits of Getting Feedback

Namely, to improve your skills, work product, and relationships, and to help you meet the expectations that your manager and others have of you.

Also, try to cut back any reaction you're having to the person who is delivering the feedback, even if it's hard to receive criticism from someone you don't fully respect.

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Why We Give Criticism
  • To help someone improve. Sometimes criticism is actual honest feedback.
  • To see a change that we would like. If we regularly read a magazine or blog, for example, there mi...
Why Criticism Hurts or Angers
  • The criticism is mean-spirited. If you use insulting or degrading language or put down the person in any way, they will focus on that, and not on the rest of the criticism.
  • If you focus on the person instead of their actions, you will make them angry or defensive or hurt.
  • They assume you’re attacking them. Some people can’t take criticism in a detached, non-personal way. 
  • They assume they’re right. Many people don’t like to hear that they’re wrong, whether it’s true or not.
How to Deliver Criticism Kindly
  • Don’t attack attack, insult, or be mean in any way
  • Talk about actions or things, not the person.
  • Don’t tell the person he’s wrong.
  • Don’t criticize at all. Give a positive suggestion instead.

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Feedback
Feedback

Feedback provides an opportunity to gain insights about a person's personal and professional actions.
Without feedback, we will move in the same direction without realizing our shortcomings. ...

Types of feedback
  • Positive vs. negative. Positive feedback confirms that someone is taking good action, while negative feedback shows what actions need to be corrected.
  • Formal vs. informal. Formal feedback is given on a set schedule, and informal feedback is short and follows after an action or event.
  • Annual vs. monthly
  • Verbal vs. written
  • Manager vs. peer
Effective feedback
Effective feedback is:
  • Objective. Don't let your personal feelings get in the way.
  • Timely. Feedback should follow when the event is still fresh.
  • Constructive. Give respect and show that you have their best interests in mind.
  • Actionable. Feedback must include immediate next steps.
  • Warranted. Give your employees room for mistakes and learn from them.

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Th velvet hammer feedback formula
Th velvet hammer feedback formula

A feedback method focused on providing nonthreatening and open-minded feedback.

The formula goes: “Got a minute? Great. I need your help. I noticed that [problem behavior goes here.] (...