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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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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.

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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.

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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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.

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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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