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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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.
Also known as PIP (Positive-Improvement-Positive), it consists of “sandwiching” a critic between two positive comments in the following manner:
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
When critiquing a peer's work:
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