Constructive Criticism: Importance, Best Practices & More

Constructive criticism is an opinion based on observation and feedback that offers an opportunity to learn without judgment.

Constructive criticism is given by someone who intends to benefit the feedback recipient. That’s positive, right? 

Constructive criticism is something that’s often overlooked in personal development. This is a mistake. Constructive criticism is essential to learning, coaching, and practicing self-improvement.

Does this mean you should be heavily criticized? No, of course not. That would be demoralizing and demotivating. But there is a balance we need to find.

In this article, you will learn all you need to know about handling criticism and how to give helpful feedback.

What Exactly is Constructive Criticism?

Constructive criticism is a positive way to call out the negative behavior of an individual without putting him down.

If you give someone criticism without praise, they will get defensive, and you cannot expect them to change.

Instead, you have to tell them precisely what they have done, why it’s wrong, and how they can rectify their error. 

Constructive criticism is a form of feedback that aims to help the person on the receiving end improve their performance. In a scenario, you can use the following: “Your writing skills are poor; you’re such a bad writer.”

That’s not constructive criticism, is it? Instead, you should use the following: “I found this article difficult to read. Can you ensure that your article is written so people can easily understand it? ”

Remember, constructive criticism is about helping people improve, not insulting them.

Why is Constructive Criticism Important?

1. Feedback helps you improve

Constructive criticism is a great way to help with personal development and push yourself to be the best you can be.

For example, if an employee is giving an important presentation in a room full of executives, he or she must provide an excellent presentation. 

The next presentation will be even better if the presenter receives feedback on what worked and what didn’t in the previous presentation. Constructive criticism is the feedback that helps you improve your performance. 

It tells you what you are doing wrong, allowing you to do it right instead. Criticism intended to make a difference and benefit both the sender and the receiver is constructive.

2. It encourages your team to grow

When you offer constructive criticism, your team will get used to it, and in the end, they’ll be thankful.

After all, not everyone on your team has all of the skills they might need. Constructive criticism gives them an outlet to learn more.

With constructive criticism training from an expert, your team will realize that it’s easier to grow when you have someone pointing out what you can improve upon.

SEE: Learn about teamwork skills

3. It shows that you care

Constructive criticism allows us to improve on the parts of our lives that need work. If you’re constantly criticizing other people, you’re missing out on a significant opportunity to help them grow and improve their skills.

Show someone you care about, give them constructive criticism, and watch your relationship grow stronger.

When you’re offering constructive criticism, you’re demonstrating that you care. It shows that you’re paying attention to your peers and that their opinions matter to you.

This transparency can strengthen relationships and build trust.

SEE: Learn about employee relations and why you should care

4. Feedback can increase overall performance

Constructive criticism is important because it helps others grow, learn, and understand their world.

By offering critical feedback in a positive light, you can improve people’s overall performance and give them more tools for success in their future endeavors.

It also helps you gain valuable practice in giving and receiving feedback, which is helpful for your personal and professional life.

Learning how to give and receive constructive criticism can help you achieve your goals and keep things positive.

5. Feedback is important to constructive growth

Giving constructive criticism is an important part of communication. Without giving feedback, you are unlikely to see improvement in the task or behavior you would like to see change.

Feedback, when given in a sensitive and well-thought-out way, is an excellent tool for growth and development.

When done right, constructive criticism will help people learn and grow by providing guidance and encouragement. Embracing feedback is an important part of being successful.

SEE: Discover effective constructive feedback examples for managers

What Are the Best Ways to Provide Constructive Criticism?

Giving constructive criticism can help someone avoid future mistakes, improve their abilities and develop their talents.

While doing so can be risky, it can also help people grow and become better at what they do. 

However, not everyone will take criticism positively and might react poorly or take it as an insult.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to deliver constructive criticism in ways that will be most effective for the person you are giving feedback.

Here are some ways you can provide constructive criticism:

1. Give your criticism in private

As humans, we’re bound to make mistakes, so when someone makes a mistake, it’s tempting to accuse them in front of everyone.

Maintaining these conversations between two people will keep the dignity of the individual who made a mistake.

When giving constructive criticism, you want the person to feel like you’re on their side and enjoy the best for them, not attack them.

Giving criticism in private is the best way to ensure that those you are critiquing will not feel like they are being attacked. 

Most people do not take well to criticism, and pointing their mistakes out in public will likely only make them feel frustrated and defensive rather than accepting your point of view.

2. Look for something positive to share first

In today’s workforce, there isn’t a manager who doesn’t have to deliver some form of constructive criticism.

It is one of the most challenging parts of management, and it can build or break employees. When you provide feedback, your initial instinct should be to share positive praise first. 

This is especially important when you share more constructive criticism than good news.

Remind them of the things they did right and provide gentle suggestions for where they could improve. Your friend or employee needs an ego boost just as much as constructive criticism.

3. Don’t pass judgment on feelings

You can’t argue with feelings. Feelings are feelings, and feelings are not necessarily based on reality.

You can tell someone, “You feel like I am hostile or aggressive towards you,” but talking past that feeling or telling the person that he or she shouldn’t feel that way will derail the conversation quickly.

There’s no need to pass judgment on the person receiving constructive criticism, even if their feelings seem unwarranted.

It is important to help them see areas for improvement and what they can do to achieve progress.

SEE: Learn more about coping skills

4. Explain one concrete improvement idea per comment

When you see something that can be fixed or improved, even if it’s a tiny detail, it’s essential to start by saying what you like about the work.

Focus on the positives first. This kinder way to phrase your constructive criticism so that it isn’t perceived as pure negativity. 

Then, try to offer one idea for improvement per comment. Providing multiple suggestions at once might be tempting, but doing this can overwhelm both the creator and their audience (and make it harder to fix).

If you have more than one concrete suggestion for how to improve something, take the practice of making separate comments.

5. Consider the time of day when giving criticism

When giving someone critical feedback, consider what you have to say and the circumstances.

For example, while providing constructive criticism in a one-on-one meeting with your boss or colleague is fine, consider the time of day

It would be a bad idea to give criticism at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, as everyone is getting ready to go home for the weekend.

6. Think about how you would feel

While giving out constructive criticism, you must put yourself in the shoes of the person you are criticizing.

If you do this, it will be easier for you to think about how you would feel if someone criticized you like that.

Think about what you would learn from it and how it would affect your motivation to change. Make sure that this is an objective report of your observations.

This will prevent you from being very harsh in your comments. 

SEE: Explore reasons why interpersonal skills are important 

Dealing with Feedback from the Boss

There’s an old saying, “No boss is perfect.” And that’s true, no matter how unique your manager is.

People who don’t work for you simply see your flaws more clearly than you do because the world looks very different from their vantage point compared to yours.

Giving and receiving feedback at work can be challenging. But that doesn’t mean it has to be painful.

Dealing with feedback from the boss is always hard. But in some instances, it can be even more challenging. If you tell yourself constructive criticism, it will be a little easier to handle.

That constructive criticism meant to improve your work might feel more like a blow to your self-esteem.

While you can’t control whether or not the boss gives you a hard time, you can control how you respond. Also, if you want to hear what the boss says, you should ask him.

Feedback is always welcome. Feedback shouldn’t just be a one-way street. So, allow your boss to give feedback on your work by asking him for it.

You shouldn’t be rude about it or act superior because, after all, you’re both on equal footing in the company.

SEE: Here are the areas of improvement for managers 

How to Handle Feedback from Peers

Peer feedback is critical when developing your communication skills, but it isn’t always easy to handle.

Don’t roll your eyes and sigh the next time you receive critical feedback. Take a moment to feel thankful for the gift that was just delivered.

Even when it’s hard to hear, it allows you to grow and improve if you are willing to listen to and accept it. You should treat all feedback, both positive and negative, as a learning opportunity.

Be open to whatever type of feedback you receive, and don’t take it personally. Practice active listening, give yourself time to process, and be willing to ask clarifying questions.

The more honest your feedback is, the more you can use it to improve your work.

SEE: Learn more about peer tutoring

FAQs

Why do people give feedback in a negative tone?

Some people aren’t as naturally positive as others, though most of us fall into a grey area. In some cases, it’s not always intentional.

How is constructive criticism different from merely criticizing?

Mere criticism, which often consists of a personal attack that does nothing to provide feedback towards a solution, is not constructive.

Conclusion: Feedback is a Gift; Use It to Improve

If you are in the public eye, do not take criticisms personally; treat them like a gift. If a few disagree with you, they have every right to do so.

The best way to handle casual comments from people is to learn from them and improve. 

If you find yourself in a situation where something is being criticized that is part of your business or social brand, thank the person for their feedback before moving on.

Lastly, feedback is a gift. You can learn much about yourself and your impact on others if you approach criticism with an open mind.

If you don’t, on the other hand, you’re wasting a golden opportunity to get feedback that will help you grow as a person.

You should also learn more about how to improve your performance at work

Thanks for reading.