Giving constructive criticism can be tricky. You want to help people improve their work, but you don’t want to offend anyone. You have to be careful of how you present constructive criticism or suggestions. Fortunately, we have a step-by-step process you can use to deliver constructive criticism in an effective and kind way.
Take some time to think beforehand. Ask yourself a few questions: What is my motive for criticizing this person? Am I trying to be constructive or negative? Is it my place to point out this problem? These are important points to look at before you offer constructive criticism. You will also want to think of the points you want to present and specific examples.
Choose a good time and place. The worst time to offer criticism is when you are angry with the other person. If you criticize in the heat of the moment, you can be unhelpful and hurtful in your criticism. Instead, take some time to think about the situation. Avoid offering criticism to one person in front of a large group unless they are all involved, and choose a time and place that will allow you to talk without interruptions.
Begin your conversation with a compliment. Let the person know his/her skills and what he/she is doing well. Give specific examples of things the person has done that have made a positive difference.
Offer constructive criticism. Explain what you would like to see changed. Use a positive tone of voice, and don’t make it personal. For example, instead of saying, “You are constantly uploading your photos to the wrong folders!”, say, “I would like to see better organization of the photos you upload.” Ask the person to give suggestions for a solution, and set goals together for improvement.
Express confidence in the person. End the conversation by reviewing the person’s strengths and contributions. Explain that you are confident he/she will be able to make improvements and reach his/her goals. Let the person know that you are willing to help if needed. Thank him/her for listening and seeking a solution.
Follow up. Give the person some time to show improvement. Compliment him/her on the changes he/she has made, and offer help if you see a lack of improvement.
With these tips, you will become better at offering constructive criticism. Remember, everybody needs a little constructive criticism once in awhile. It makes us better at what we do!
Need practice giving constructive criticism? Read Conducting an Interview and practice interviewing with a classmate. Then, each of you can offer constructive criticism on how the other can improve his/her interview skills.