Quick Tip No 23: How to Criticize Someone

TalkA couple of weeks ago I wrote about the value of customer criticism. But what when it is you who has to deal some constructive criticism to people working with or under you?

It is often very difficult to voice criticism, because many take any kind of criticism personally or believe that by criticizing them you think you are better than them. People may also have a hard time accepting your opinion because they may think you are criticizing everything they do. After all, they may have worked hard and spent much time on the very thing you are so critically reviewing and therefore even think you do not have any right or basis to do so.

This is why criticism even when voiced with the best intentions often builds up unnecessary frontiers between you and them. These frontiers make it difficult to have a reasonable discussion and solve the problem at hand. So how to criticize someone?

A simple solution is acknowledging the good work that has been done and actually saying how much you appreciate the good progress that has been made on the matter before you point out what you think needs improvement.

With this easy method, you show that you both are sitting in the same boat and that you are very well aware of the good work the person you are criticizing is doing. This way it becomes less about the person but more about the mutual problem you both want to solve.

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