An Essential Guide To Constructive Criticism

In a world of put me downs or taking things personally, what has happened to healthy criticism? Here’s the essential guide on how to give it, and how to take it.

Here’s how to give constructive criticism:

1. Check out your motive. Is it to help the person rather than one of self interest? Will it improve their performance and make their job or life easier?
If not, then don’t give it.

2. Don’t criticise the person’s character. Focus on the specifics and keep it impersonal such as ‘yesterday I noticed that one of the jobs was left
undone after everyone had gone home and I believe the responsibility lies within your remit’.

3. Make effort to understand the person and what it was they were trying to do. Try to find out why. This gives you a different perspective on the

4. Phrase it positively if possible. Rather than focussing on their poor performance, try to focus on ways they can improve their performance.

5. Always make it a personal ‘one to one’ conversation which is out of ear-shot of anyone else. Don’t humiliate or embarrass the person by saying
anything openly or in front of others.

Here’s how to take it:

1. Thank the person for giving you the criticism. It is always hard for someone to give criticism or to be brave enough to actually give you any
negative feedback.

2. Don’t get defensive. Ask them to tell you more and seek clarification. This is to make sure you understand but also so that the other person
acknowledges you’ve heard what it is that they’ve said. Enter into a dialogue with the person to resolve the issue.

3. Be authentic. If you feel it’s unfair criticism say so. If you feel crushed by it then tell the other person how it’s made you feel.

4. Take time to think it through before you react. Ask yourself whether you agree or disagree with the criticism. Why might you have come across this
way to the other person? It is entirely up to you whether you decide to accept the criticism or not. You still have that choice regardless of the

5. Take it as a compliment. The person has been good enough to take their time to give you some free feedback. Turn this around and view it as a

Article by: Wendy Howard, Spirit of Venus, &

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