Giving constructive criticism: a how-to guide

The idea of giving someone criticism isn’t exactly something that brings most of us comfort.

At least, I would hope it doesn’t.

Being critical of someone can be kind of awkward, and, depending on who the person is that you’re criticizing, it can be a little tense, too. But, constructive criticism is something all of us should be privy to at some point in our lives as it is important to be able to accept and further handle critique, and, with a little bit of help, criticizing someone constructively doesn’t have to be as terrible as we tend to think it is.

In my own experience, giving someone constructive criticism should be constructive, as the same suggests. Rather than hacking someone up and singling out their flaws, try to approach the situation in a positive manner from the get-go. It’s arguable that most of us become defensive when we are attacked, and constructive criticism shouldn’t take on the form of harassment, or bullying.

When you’re constructively criticizing someone, it is important to keep in mind that your critique is intended to be helpful, not hateful. Keep the tone of the conversation light to allow the other person to be receptive and feel comfortable, and perhaps start out by addressing all of the positive things this person does to keep conversation on track.

When it comes to the critique element of the equation, be mindful of the language you’re using, and also your body language. Avoid saying things like “you need to stop doing this” or “what you’re doing isn’t working” and instead try phrases like “I don’t think this is an example of the skills you have” or “perhaps if you try this, you will be more successful.” Avoid crossing your arms and maintain eye contact to encourage the person to feel comfortable.

Constructive criticism, when executed in the right way, can be a very helpful and beneficial thing to both give and receive. It’s simply a matter of knowing how to best approach the situation.

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