Criticism can be hard to accept, no matter how you deliver it. However, getting and offering criticism is essential for professional growth.
Delivering criticism and discussing what needs improvement can lead to low motivation, negative feelings, and disengagement. That is why criticism needs to be constructive.
According to Asana, constructive criticism focuses on providing constructive feedback, supported by specific examples, to help you improve in some area. Constructive criticism should be offered in a friendly manner with good intentions. Ideally, the person offering constructive criticism should also be prepared to help brainstorm possible solutions and next steps to serve as a valuable tool in the growth process.
Constructive Criticism vs Deconstructive Criticism
Constructive criticism inspires rather than demotivates because it focuses on future progress rather than past mistakes. A 2020 study shows that negative feedback that focuses on past mistakes isn’t as efficient.
Destructive criticism, on the other hand, focuses solely on the problem. This kind of feedback offers no encouragement, help, or support for improvement. Despite the deliverer’s intentions, it often lowers morale and reduces confidence.
Here are some tips on how to effectively give constructive criticism:
Choose the right time and place
Find a suitable time and private space to discuss the feedback. Avoid addressing sensitive matters in front of others, as it could lead to embarrassment or defensiveness.
Identify the behavior, action, or situation that you want to address. Vague feedback can be confusing and ineffective. Provide specific examples to illustrate your points.
Deconstructive:”You need to improve your communication skills.”
Constructive: “In the last team meeting, it would have been helpful if you had provided more context to your ideas so that everyone could understand your points better.”
Focus on behavior, not personality
Frame your feedback around the specific behavior or performance, not the person’s character. This helps avoid making the individual feel attacked or defensive.
Deconstructive: “You’re lazy when it comes to deadlines.”
Constructive: “I’ve noticed that the last two projects were completed past their deadlines. Let’s discuss how we can manage our time more effectively to avoid this.”
Use “I” statements
Using an “I” statement allows you to present feedback in a manner that appears less directed at a person, as it focuses on your own experience. By starting each sentence with “I,” you consistently emphasize that you’re expressing your thoughts and viewpoints, as opposed to presenting objective truths.
Deconstructive: “You didn’t consider other team members’ input.”
Constructive: “I think it would be beneficial if we could incorporate input from all team members to make our decisions more well-rounded.”
Provide solutions or suggestions
Don’t just point out problems—provide potential solutions or suggestions for improvement. This demonstrates your willingness to help them succeed.
Deconstructive: “You’re not organized enough.”
Constructive: “To streamline your workflow, consider setting up a task management tool. This could help you stay on top of your tasks and deadlines.”
Ask questions that prompt the individual to reflect on their own performance. This encourages a sense of ownership and can lead to self-directed improvement.
After giving your feedback, allow the individual to respond. Listen carefully to their perspective and be open to constructive dialogue. They might have insights you haven’t considered.
Be open and understanding of their reactions
We know this feeling very well based on our previous experiences. Understand that receiving criticism can be challenging, and individuals might react defensively at first. Be patient and empathetic, and try to address their concerns.
Check-in with the individual periodically to see how they’re progressing based on the feedback. This demonstrates your ongoing support and interest in their development.
Lead by example
Demonstrate your willingness to receive feedback as well. This creates a culture of openness and continuous improvement.
Remember, the goal of constructive criticism is to help individuals grow and succeed. Approach the conversation with empathy, respect, and a genuine desire to support their development.
P2L’s Giving and Receiving Constructive Criticism course can help you and your organization approach criticism more positively. This course is designed to equip participants with the essential skills and knowledge necessary to provide effective feedback and constructive criticism in a professional setting. Participants will learn how to deliver feedback respectfully and constructively, fostering a positive work environment and promoting growth and development among team members.
For questions and inquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.