In the world of creatives, at your workplace, and at home, while trying to make the people around you better, you risk the chances of your words being manipulated or causing demotivation. The best way to ensure that your criticism is appreciated and taken to heart in good fashion is to understand the workings of how best to approach a person with the guidelines of constructive criticism.
In any part of life, constructive criticism is a crucial element of self-improvement. It is important to show empathy and be sensitive to other people feelings and only offer feedback when you are sure the other party is ready to receive it. Failure to do so might make you come across as authoritative or imposing with your views.
One of the frequently used methods utilized in the corporate environment and professional settings is the feedback sandwich method. The feedback sandwich aims to offer constructive criticism in the positive-improvement-positive format. Others use it in the praise-improve-praise format but let us go with the former version.
When offering constructive criticism, always start off by acknowledging the strengths of the person in question. Appreciate their strengths and the times where they have delivered incredibly. You can then provide the criticism which should ideally be centered on things you do not like about the subject and areas where they can improve.
Round off your feedback with a reiteration of the positive words of affirmation that you began with and what you expect the results to be if your criticism is acted upon. This is the basic concept of the feedback sandwich where you slip in the criticism in between positive comments just like a patty in the middle of two buns.
Specificity is an important factor as well when offering constructive criticism. Focus on the issue to be acted upon rather than the person. Criticizing the person and not their work brings a personal feel to the topic at hand. It can be tempting to get sidetracked if the cause of concern is a recurring issue but try your best to respect the person.
Being specific about the areas that need improving instead of bashing the whole work will undoubtedly lead to a more actionable outcome. Using words like ‘’, I don’t like it” is hardly constructive compared to ‘‘the project was decent in its entirety except for the part where…” after which you can give specific examples of each point you want to touch.
Clarify the importance of the specific behavior and how it can affect the project and organization in general. Helping the receiver understand the gravity and significance of the mistake can provide context that will inspire the receiver to improve.
By connection action and impact, along with specific actionable suggestions for improvement, you will have successfully created a learning environment where people can grow.
Congratulations, you have learned the simple hack to offering constructive criticism in any context. Maybe next time, they will even seek you out for feedback because of the excellent experience they had previously with you.