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How to Deliver Constructive Criticism Without Offending

Abena is a writer and entrepreneur. In 2016, she took the plunge and moved from the UK to Ghana, West Africa.

Delivering Constructive Criticism

Lagos Techie on Unsplash

Lagos Techie on Unsplash

How to deliver constructive criticism without offending

Criticism is an inevitable part of life. It's a way of learning and growing.

However, if you're not careful, you could end up hurting someone's feelings.

When delivering criticism, it's essential to remember that everyone has their unique style of dealing with a complaint. Some people might get offended easily, while others might shrug off criticism as nothing.

If you want to give constructive criticism without upsetting anyone, here are some tips to follow.

#1- Be specific about what needs improvement

It can be difficult for your boss or colleague to see where they need to improve when you tell them how much you dislike something.

Instead, try giving examples of why you think something isn't working well. For example: "I don't like the fact that we're paying too much money on our electricity bills." This gives your critic more information than simply saying, "you suck at managing finances!"

#2- Don't criticize unless asked

You shouldn't feel obligated to offer feedback every time you have a negative opinion. If you do this, then you risk coming across as rude. You also run the risk of being labeled as a person who constantly complains.

So instead, wait until you're permitted before offering any criticisms. When asking for feedback, make sure you phrase things carefully so that it doesn't appear as if you're criticizing. Instead, ask questions such as: "What would help us better manage our budget?" Or "Is there anything else I should know about our current situation?"

#3- Give positive reinforcement instead

Instead of criticizing, focus on praising good work. When you praise someone else, they will appreciate it even more because they know you mean it. Plus, it shows that you care enough to notice all the great stuff going on around you.

#4- Focus on solutions rather than problems

Instead of focusing on the problem itself, talk about ways to fix it. For instance, say, "We've been spending too much money on electricity lately" rather than "we spend too much money on electricity." The former focuses on finding a solution, whereas the latter only talks about the problem.

#5- Avoid using sarcasm

Sarcasm doesn't come naturally to most people, so use it sparingly. Also, remember that sarcasm comes from within; it's hard to take seriously. So, if you find yourself getting sarcastic, stop right away.

#6- Keep it short

Don't go into detail about everything wrong with whatever you're talking about.

People usually aren't interested in hearing long-winded explanations, especially when the information is already making them feel bad. Try keeping your comments brief and concise.

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It's important to keep feedback brief because it allows your listener to absorb the message quickly. In addition, it helps prevent misunderstandings by avoiding lengthy discussions. And also, you save your victim from prolonged embarrassment.

#7- Use nonjudgmental language

Avoid calling names such as "stupid," "idiot," etc.

These words tend to hurt people's feelings. Instead, choose neutral terms such as "unfortunate", "problematic", etc. The problem with calling people "stupid" and "idiot" is, these labels imply that the person deserves to be called those names. But no one deserves to be insulted. And those terms are insults; they are far from constructive criticisms.

#8- Make sure you're speaking honestly

Be honest with your criticisms but don't exaggerate anything either.

Your goal is to help your coworker understand what they did wrong. Speaking honestly is probably one of the best ways to deliver constructive criticisms because it lets the person know how their actions affect other team members.

Giving constructive criticism is one thing. But, making sure you avoid insulting other people is another. Follow these guidelines, and you'll never offend anyone again. If you find yourself struggling, you can constantly improve by continuing to learn how to deliver constructive criticism.


Cynthia from Philippines on September 12, 2021:

thanks for sharing

intriguewriter (author) from worldwide on September 10, 2021:

Thanks for your positive comment and additional advice Grumpy Book Reviewer.

Maria Logan Montgomery from Coastal Alabama, UsA on September 10, 2021:

Some really good advice here. I usually begin by point out the good things first, then mentioning something that could use improvement, and offering to help, if needed.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 08, 2021:

These are wonderful suggestions. When I was teaching I used a lot of these ideas. Thanks for sharing them.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 07, 2021:

All good points. They can be applied to criticising other people’s writing as well.

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