No one likes being criticized. One thing I learned from being a Language and Literature Major though was to appreciate and value constructive criticism. So what is Constructive Criticism? Constructive criticism is the process of giving someone well-reasoned feedback about their work or behaviour as a way to improve themselves. Constructive criticism is not always positive, but the critic giving it is someone who genuinely wants to see you succeed in what you are doing. This type of criticism is particularly useful in the workplace because it gives criticism in a positive rather than an oppositional manner. So why are we all so afraid of being criticized? Well, destructive criticism is what gave criticism a bad name. Destructive criticism is given to someone with the sole intention to attack their self-esteem, insult their character, and reputation. The result? We feel like a failure. We are all supportive of each other, but when we are not, it is important to know how to go about criticizing others. Read below 7 things to consider before you criticize someone so that your approach can help them flourish in their work but also grow in their personal life.
You Criticize To Improve Someone, Not To Attack!
There is a big difference between criticizing effectively with kindness so that you can help someone grow, and criticizing someone with the intention to hurt them. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen in the workplace but also on social media way too often, but criticizing someone just so that you can make yourself feel good is just wrong. Unline popular belief criticism is not meant to be ill-spirited. The main aim of criticism is to give feedback so that the receiver of criticism can improve their flaws or correct certain behaviour patterns. So check yourself. Are you here to attack or are you here to help someone progress in their career and/or personal life?
Bonus Tip: When you are frustrated with something in your life, take a moment to solve your own frustrations before criticizing someone else. Sometimes we tend to take out our own frustrations on others which is not constructive at all, but rather projective.
Know The Facts Before You Criticize Someone
Don’t rush to criticize someone without knowing all the facts. I have rushed to criticize in the past and in the end I looked like the bad guy. If you make a mistake not only you will feel awful, but you will also risk creating an issue between you and someone who didn’t deserve your wrongful criticism. Ask questions and give the person the opportunity to explain certain aspects of the situation you may not know.
Criticize The Situation, Not The Person
Another important thing to consider before you criticize someone is to ask yourself if you are criticizing the action or the person? It may sound the same but it is not. It is very critical you separate the two before proceeding with your criticism. Avoid using words like You or Your. This focuses the criticism on the person, not the action and it may be perceived as an attack on the person and not their actions. Keep the tone of your language positive and refrain from using adjectives that label the receiver. I am a firm believer in being open with people, but keep in mind that labels do more harm than good and are not constructive at all. Instead of saying You are so lazy, you never have anything on time say something like I would love it if the next campaign is delivered in on time. In the second sentence, I took away the focus from the person and placed it on the action. The second sentence was also specific to the action as opposed to giving a generalized sentence about the person’s character.
Disguise your criticism to seem like a suggestion. This is how you can avoid giving criticism to someone. I find that subtle criticism is much more effective than directly pointing out someone’s flaws who are so stuck in their ways. You could also turn a criticism into a suggestion like saying One thing that could make your work even better is if you… instead of saying You always make your work so boring. The key here is to be genuine and don’t sound passive-aggressive in your delivery. If that is your attitude, you may as well provide them with destructive criticism. Be genuinely caring in your delivery. It is human nature to accept positive criticisms more openly.
Carefully Choose The Time You Criticize Someone
There is a time and place for everything, this includes when you criticize someone. Evaluate the urgency of your criticism and choose carefully when you decide to deliver your criticism.
The benefit of criticizing right away is that the situation is fresh in everyone’s mind. The risk is that you give criticism before you evaluate things with a clear head. If you criticize someone right away, be cautious of the words you use to criticize and consider the long term impact your words will have not only to the other person but also to you.
Save it for later.
You decide to wait and give yourself time to think about the situation from both sides logically, but also to evaluate if bringing up the criticism is really worth your time. You may also decide to let it go this time, but criticize right away if the issue/situation resurfaces/occurs again.
Criticize Someone In Public Or In Private?
There is a right and wrong way to criticize someone. It is always best to give your criticism in private. Not everyone needs to hear the criticism being given especially when that criticism is supposed to help someone grow, not publically shame them. Play it safe and give your criticism in private. Especially in today’s digital era where things can escalate really quickly from good to bad. You have one person tweeting a criticism about someone and next thing you know it all spirals down from criticism to desctructive criticism real quick. Again, remember criticism is meant to help someone improve! Not to publically shame them. When you disagree with someone in public, use your discretion, and be objective with the language you use especially since the criticism is now a public one.
Be Ready To Face Criticism Yourself and Have a Conversation
When you criticize someone, you open the door to be criticized as well. Don’t criticize someone if you are not ready to receive criticism yourself. Be open to have a conversation because criticizing someone should be an invitation to have an open conversation about the issue. There are always two sides to the story, and making your criticism a one-sided argument is the worst thing you can do to your working and personal relationships. You will always be exposed in situations where you must give, but also receive criticism.
Are You Making it Your Mission To Be The Critic?
When you are constantly criticizing others for their choices, that also says a lot about you. Pick your battles, and pick what issues are important for you to address. Don’t micromanage and most definitely don’t be judgemental towards every little thing someone else does. If that is the case, then there is a deeper issue you need to look into that goes beyond criticism. Just remember that criticism can either help us grow or destroy us. Ask yourself. Do you want to help someone grow or do you want to see someone fail? Just like you compliment only people whose work really stands out, the same concept should be applied to criticism as well.