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

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.

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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 likely to pay attention to the whole package.

Instead of being snarky and vague, explain why you think your criticism is valid and be specific and constructive about what you think would be an improvement. The former doesn’t inform much and makes people unhappy; the latter at least gives some ideas for improvement.

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.

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. That way the criticism is "sandwiched" between two positives, making it seem less harsh.
  2. Focus on the situation, not the person. This helps preventing the other person from feeling attacked.
  3. Think about timing when you give feedback. When emotions are running high people tend to become less receptive to criticism.
  4. Use A "Straw Man" to illustrate your point. "Try to give the critique through a personal anecdote or an inspiring story of someone famous who went through the same thing.
  5. Offer specific suggestions. This keeps the discussion focused and gives the other person a concrete area of improvement.
  6. Keep your language positive and avoid negative statements. It helps to set the tone of the entire exchange.
  7. Stick to "I" statements. Using "I feel" statements over more accusatory "you" statements works.
  8. Be conscious of your tone. If you're coming off as stern, or angry, that may trigger someone’s defenses.
  9. Think about if it really needs to be said, or if it doesn't need to come from you. Sometimes it's better not to say it. Nothing can be more off-putting than unsolicited advice.
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.

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.

Listen for Understanding

As the person shares feedback with you, listen closely. Allow the person to share their complete thoughts, without interruption. When they’re done, repeat back what you heard.

Avoid analyzing or questioning the person’s assessment; instead, just focus on understanding his or her comments and perspective.