5. Give Improvement Recommendations - Deepstash
5. Give Improvement Recommendations

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.

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

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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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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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.

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RELATED IDEA

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.

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Overview

When critiquing a peer's work:

  1. Understand That Critiques are for Improvement
  2. Start With Something Good & Relate It
  3. Remove Personal Remarks
  4. Reflect Your Own Thoughts
  5. Don't Critique Something you Dislike
  6. Avoid Critiques of Word Choice
  7. Have some General Questions to Think About

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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.

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