How to Give and Take Constructive Criticism: Useful Tips

Published in


August 9, 2022


Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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Valuable feedback in the form of criticism can help you improve, but many people are uncomfortable when they hear negative comments about their work.

Getting used to responding positively to criticism will help you grow as a person and advance in your career.

Constructive criticism is a tool for improvement; it helps the other person see and polish their work from a new perspective.

On the other hand, destructive criticism is abuse that can lead to stress and decreased productivity.

In this post, we'll walk through tips and strategies for giving and receiving constructive criticism like a champ.

What is Constructive Criticism?

Constructive criticism definition is when someone gives feedback that provides specific, actionable suggestions.

Rather than providing general advice, constructive criticism offers specific recommendations on how to make positive improvements.

Criticism that is constructive focuses on the positive aspects of the situation while emphasizing the scope for improvement.

This is a valuable quality in leadership. You can drastically enhance your team's output if you can show people where they fall short and help them improve without bringing their morale down.

Benefits of Using Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is an essential part of the workplace. When people know how to give and take criticism, they can identify areas for improvement.

Here are some of the benefits of constructive criticism:

Learning opportunities

Humans tend to overestimate their abilities and ignore their shortcomings.

That’s why it’s important to seek feedback for personal growth. The learning curve increases as you adapt to doing things differently and accept corrective criticism.

Builds relationships

Giving constructive criticism takes courage because you can't predict how the other person will respond.

People who have your best interests at heart go out of their way to provide corrective feedback.

Accept their criticism and thank them for helping you improve. This way, you can build productive relationships with people who care about you.

Welcomes new perspectives

Constructive criticism can give you a fresh perspective on the world.

When you understand other people’s views, you can make effective changes to your work and approach.

3 Tips for Giving Constructive Criticism:

Constructive criticism encompasses a variety of factors that influence one's outlook to a significant degree.

However, the following are several noteworthy features of corrective criticism:

  • Practice what you preach

If you want to be taken seriously, implement what you say before you share your opinion. People won't respect your feedback if you don't follow your own advice.

For example, if an employee is struggling to maintain a work-life balance, they won't seek advice from someone who rarely leaves the office.

Instead, they'll go to colleagues who have found balance and know how they can achieve it.

  • Use real and specific examples

Use real-life examples when providing feedback. It will help people visualize how their method is flawed and, if improved, how it can generate better results.

For example: "Hey, I noticed you don't follow up with leads after the first sales pitch.

That's something we can work on together. I usually see 40% more conversions in my first follow-up and 10% in the second. It adds up quickly and can increase commissions significantly."

  • Provide people a chance to revert

Always conduct civil discourse when sharing your perspective with others.

It will help them understand the reasoning behind your actions. Let them cross-examine you and respectfully answer their questions, as well as respect other opinions.

If they find your stance wrong, gracefully accept it, apologize and move on.

Destructive vs. Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism can help people improve, while destructive criticism often targets people personally and does little to improve a situation.

While you can’t choose which feedback you receive, you can decide how to respond to them.

Self-acceptance plays a pivotal role in providing a healthy response to criticism. It will help if you put conscious effort into offering feedback empathically.

Empathy and Constructive Criticism

When offering constructive feedback to others, be sure to put yourself in their shoes.

If you don’t understand their situation and they feel you don’t care about them, they will not listen to anything you have to say.

Here’s an effective method for delivering constructive criticism empathetically:

Leverage the ‘Feedback Sandwich’ approach

The ‘Feedback Sandwich’ method is a way to deliver negative feedback that minimizes the harmful intensity of the criticism and makes it comforting for the receiver.

This approach consists of a negative remark between two positive statements, balancing the critical comment with two relatively positive ones.

Here’s an example:

The first ‘positive’ layer: This website looks great! The overall design is aesthetically pleasing, and I love how you’ve integrated an easy-to-understand UI. In addition, your explainer video works amazingly well with our services.

The ‘improvement’ layer: The content structure for our ‘About Us’ and ‘Services’ pages is too cluttered. We would do better to present the information in a way that makes it easier for people to browse through.

The last ‘positive’ layer: Overall, the work is good! We are headed in the right direction. By revamping the content structure, we can enhance the user experience significantly.

This type of feedback adds a positive spin to criticism, making it easier for employees to digest. They are also more motivated to improve their work after being given this response.

How to give and take constructive criticism?

Learn to deliver constructive criticism and, meantime take constructive criticism.

Here are the primary tips you need to be aware of:

  • Offer feedback sandwich.
  • Don’t give impulsive reactions.
  • Be concise and to the point.
  • Strive to be a good listener.
  • Always follow up with recommendations.
  • Cross question for clarity.
  • Give unbiased feedback.
  • Do not become defensive.
  • Avoid making assumptions.
  • Do not interrupt the other person.
  • Try and extract the learning point from the feedback and focus on it.
  • Pay attention to your situation instead of people.
  • Do not respond with anger and disappointment.
  • Criticism is a natural part of workplace life. 

It's easy for leaders to lash out at employees and exercise their authority, but this doesn't motivate people. Giving constructive criticism is the best way to improve performance.