Constructive Criticism at Work: How To Do It


Constructive criticisms are an integral part of any work environment. A constructive criticism – also known as constructive feedback – helps improve work efficiency and also improves productivity in the workplace. There are some who are wary of constructive criticism because of the misplaced notion that it will hurt their feelings. But if the person involved in the criticism knows how to give one in a positive manner then the chances of hurting someone’s feelings is minimized if not eliminated altogether.

Here are some tips you can follow for effective constructive criticism:

Identify the issue at hand

When making constructive criticism, make sure that you specifically and explicitly mention what the issue is you want to discuss and stick to that issue. Don’t try to bring other issues to the table because it will just muddle the sincerity of your intentions and may be seen as a form of harboring a grudge. This will also confuse the person to whom you’re directing the criticism because he’ll be bombarded with a multitude of issues. Just discuss the one issue you have identified and don’t forget to also mention a solution so that you can show that your intention is to fix a problem and not just bring attention to a person’s faults. Also, you shouldn’t allow the discussion to meander towards other topics or issues.

Feedback should be positive and negative

To completely address the issue at hand learn how to give negative comments that is phrased in a healthy, non-confrontational manner and then combine it with positive comments. Let’s face it, a criticism will always deal with something negative you’ve seen. Don’t shirk away from this reality. If you see something negative say it, but do it with the person’s feelings in mind. Phrase it in such a way that it won’t sound like you’re putting the person down. To help lighten the situation, don’t forget to mention the person’s positive attributes or qualities as well. Avoid taking the discussion towards the personal level. Keep it professional and keep your voice down. The best way to go about this is to try to picture yourself receiving the criticism. By doing this, you’ll be able to choose your words more carefully because you won’t say anything that you think will hurt you if it has been used on you.

Get a plan together

A criticism is not worth it if all you’ll do is point out a person’s mistakes. Be proactive instead. After you’ve mentioned what you think are the shortcomings be prepared to give out specific action points that they can follow to rectify those shortcomings. If it’s possible, try to set a deadline as well so that they’ll have something concrete to strive for.

Allow them to talk

Constructive criticism should be a dialogue. Allow them to address your criticisms. If they want to explain themselves or clarify information then give them the opportunity to do so. This can help you gain a better picture of the situation. If the person is not comfortable talking to you then you can ask them to explain themselves in writing.

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