Criticism can be tough. No one likes to be told they are doing something incorrectly. However, criticism is a necessary evil if change needs to be made. The trick is delivering it correctly. When criticism is reduced to just that – criticism – it can be hurtful and in the long run demotivate the person on the receiving end.
However, constructive criticism has the ability to bring about positive change and improve the environment for all. In other words, the criticism must be productive. Without knowing how to improve, one often is not able to change and can slip back into their old ways. As many of us know, criticism can be hard to receive, but we often fail to think about how difficult it may be to be the one giving the criticism instead of being the one on the receiving end. Coming off in a way which does not offend or hurt anyone is the primary goal.
Luckily, there are several techniques to offer constructive criticism provided by successful life couches that are truly productive and will benefit all parties involved:
Focus On How To Change: Strive to frame criticism in a way that the focus is on the change that needs to occur without resorting to accusations or derogatory comments. Frame the criticism to include the benefit to the person making that change. Change the focus from “you” to “how” to help deliver the message. – Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching
Give Your Intention Some Attention: Think about why you feel the need to share the criticism. If it’s truly to help someone improve performance, approach it from a place of how you would want the information communicated to you. Stay factual to avoid an emotional confrontation and make sure you create the space for it to be a conversation (versus a directive) that leads to a positive outcome. – Gina Gomez, Gina Gomez, Business & Life Coach
Have A Private Conversation: Praise in public, criticize in private. This is a general rule that has a few exceptions. If the person to whom you are giving feedback feels humiliated or embarrassed, then the criticism may have little value. When criticism is given one-on-one, with the right tone and motive, it contributes value. – Patrick Jinks, The Jinks Perspective
Use Emotional Intelligence: We should consider our emotional state before delivering criticism. Are you angry or anxious? Take some time to understand how the feedback you need to deliver impacts you personally. Next, consider how the feedback will impact the receiver as well as your team’s productivity. Manage your emotions beforehand to obtain the desired outcome. LaKisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC
Start With What Is Working: Too often, we hear either “brutal honesty,” or no truth at all: “Everything is great!” Real feedback is actually about telling the truth without blame or judgment – one of the four universal communication principles developed by Dr. Angeles Arrien. And the truth always has two parts: something is working, and something could be better. Start with what works, then share the upgrade. – Doy Charnsupharindr, Berkley Executive Coaching Institute
Focus on a Behavior That Can Be Changed: Most people give feedback by making broad-based claims without providing evidence. For example, “You’re not prepared,” is less useful than, “You don’t have materials and I can tell you haven’t practiced.” Broad-based claims are interpreted as evaluations character and tend to be harmful. Constructive criticism highlights things can be changed and provides some indication of how to change them. – Ross Blankenship, PhD, Spencer Stuart
Discuss Behavior, Impact And Action: Constructive criticism describes the impact of a specific behavior. It does not focus on personality or perceived intent. It might sound like this: “You did not submit your project on time (behavior), and we had to postpone our team meeting (impact). Next time, let me know you will be late so we can plan accordingly (action).” Result? Less hurt feelings. – Kathleen Taylor-Gadsby, KTG Leadership Solutions
Show Respect And Stay Objective: Constructive criticism starts with respect for the person’s dignity. Choose words carefully. Select those that do not put the receiver on the defensive. Use “I” messages, like “I’ve noticed” or “I’m concerned about,” rather than “you” messages, like “you always” or “you never.” Keep your emotions out of it, as they can derail your message. Maintain dignity by giving choices where possible. – Judy Nelson, Judy Nelson Executive Coach
“True humility is being able to accept criticisms as graciously as we accept compliments.” – Sabrina Newby