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constructive critisism

How to give constructive criticism – 4 tips

After talking about the reception of criticism in the last blog, we now want to turn our attention to the other side and shed light on how to give appropriate, constructive criticism without making the other person feel personally attacked. Before that, however, we should clarify what constructive criticism actually is.

What is constructive criticism?

Constructive criticism focuses on providing useful feedback and concrete examples, primarily to help the other person improve in the area in question. Constructive criticism should be given in a friendly manner and with good intentions. Ideally, the person criticizing is willing to work on possible solutions and next steps themselves in order to move forward.

Constructive criticism is not negative

In order to be able to classify criticism correctly, it helps to know that constructive criticism is basically not meant negatively and should not be perceived as such. Of course, the other person does not like it when a mistake is pointed out to him. However, most of the time it is aimed at helping someone and not at making the person look bad. It is best to get to the point where the person being criticized understands what you are trying to accomplish with your criticism.

The following tips will help you do this:

1. Pay attention to your body language and tone.

Tone and body language are very crucial when expressing criticism. Of course, content matters as well. But body language and tone give the words you utter a decisive impact.

Therefore, pay attention to your facial expressions. Don’t look too stern, have an open posture and a positive aura. The tone should be friendly and less aggressive. It helps to plan your conversation in advance and think about how best to deliver the criticism.

2. Formulate your criticism with first-person sentences.

I-phrases allow you to remain formal when criticizing the person and not come across as personal. As soon as a sentence starts with “you,” the person you’re criticizing feels it’s more personal and may take it the wrong way. A “I” statement does not feel like a personal attack to the person.
Therefore, it makes sense to start with I-messages such as “I believe…”, “I think…” and not to use sentences such as “You did this or that…”.

I-phrases make it seem like you are simply sharing your thoughts and opinions with the person rather than looking at objective facts. This can help overcome the instinctive defensiveness, justifications, and back-talk that often accompanies criticism and make the entire conversation more constructive and interactive.

3. Give your counterpart actionable approaches to follow

When giving criticism, always remember to give your counterpart something to work on in the days ahead. Good, constructive criticism should therefore not only highlight what can be improved, but also include ideas and next steps.

Give your counterpart the opportunity to ask you questions or discuss the issue with you. By offering support, you give the person the feeling that you mean well with the criticism and are interested in the person moving forward.

Before offering criticism, ask yourself: Can my counterpart do anything with the criticism, or can he or she not implement the improvements?

By asking yourself this question, you differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism before you criticize and leave the latter out of the equation.

4. Criticism also includes praise

Constructive criticism should not only be about negative things; it is also helpful to tell the person what he or she has done well. This allows them to improve their strengths and not just work on their weaknesses.

In addition, it makes the other person feel good and he or she feels inspired by the praise and is more motivated as a result. A healthy mix of praise and constructive criticism helps any person grow personally and succeed professionally.

Conclusion: Criticism can have a positive effect

If you use criticism properly, it can make for healthier collaboration and better productivity within your team or company than before. In our opinion, it is important to always communicate honestly with each other and not be afraid to address important issues directly.

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