Criticism can cause resentment, irritation and bitterness and can even destroy a previously strong relationship. But feedback can be useful when it’s used correctly. So how do you criticise positively? Try using these 10 simple tips to avoid hurting feeling
Understand the main purpose of ‘criticism’.
There is no point in simply criticising someone without a specific goal. If feedback is necessary to improve a situation or the behaviour of a particular person, it’s important to remember that the aim is not to point to a mistake but to help the person see a problem and help fix it.
If you are going to give feedback to a person make sure you are calm and considered. If you’re angry irritated or disappointed you cannot constructively criticise as your emotions will influence you. Therefore, before you begin to make critical comments, you need to be calm. Only criticism without emotions can lead to the desired result and not injure a person.
Give feedback for an ‘act’ not a person.
Always separate the act from the person. By doing this it becomes easier for people to accept criticism, as it doesn’t concern them rather what they have done. This approach helps to change the perception of what has been said and means that your conversation will be more productive.
Do not blame the person.
Truly constructive criticism brings positive results and does not cause feelings of guilt, but stimulates a person to change. A sense of guilt however suppresses activity, deprives people of energy and can often be caused by non-constructive criticism. It is therefore important to present the information so that it does not provoke a sense of guilt.
Avoid evaluative judgment.
Try to build your communication with the person without evaluative judgement and avoid simply evaluating the action – “It’s done badly” and replace that with arguments for why and how it should be done differently.
Show the person how you see the situation.
Make it easier to reach a person and get a good result from the feedback by getting the person to look at the situation from the outside. If you can calmly and tactfully describe how you see the situation and put forward your structured arguments its possible to get someone to see a different point of view. The result may not be instant but you will direct the person’s thinking in the right direction.
Suggest a solution.
The biggest mistake when giving feedback is that we do not show what is really needed. Instead of asking “Who’s in charge?” we need to ask what can be done. If you already see a solution, let people know. Don’t focus on what has been done incorrectly rather concentrate your criticism on how to fix it.
Don’t make it personal.
This is unhealthy criticism! Don’t point specifically to the faults of the person, as this will stop them hearing your point. If you want to make someone change, try using “we” instead of “you”.
Separate the problems.
The use of words like “always”, “never” and “all the time” is very unhelpful. Statements such as “You’re always late!” or “You never arrive on time” means a person will not hear that they are not punctual, as their subconscious perceives such phrases as something impossible to change.
Never ever mix positive and negative messages.
Avoid the old fashioned positive-negative-positive model. With careful attention, there should be no need to ‘sweeten the pill’ as most feedback exits to be development, supportive and to build performance.