13 Feb How to Provide Constructive Criticism Without Offending Anyone
No matter if you’re talking to a co-worker or a superior, constructive criticism and feedback is often a must. This is one of the most effective ways for individuals to recognize their weaknesses, make changes, and improve.
But, to make these comments effective, you must not offend. By doing so, you can damage your relationships, affect morale and motivation, hinder your own progress with the company, and much more.
Let’s talk about several ways you can provide constructive criticism without offending.
Use specific examples when you provide constructive criticism
Be sure to provide specific examples of a behavior or an action that you wish to change. List recent incidents!
For example, if your manager is never available, list specific times when they were late to work, in the break room talking to others, etc. This will help them better recognize their behavior, rather than instantly becoming defensive.
Watch your tone so things stay friendly
Your tone of voice can change a very friendly and helpful conversation into what appears to be a personal attack. You want to watch how you speak to your co-workers.
When your voice is harsh and demanding, those you are talking to are likely to become offended. And if they are offended, they won’t absorb what you are truly trying to say.
Use the praise sandwich when you provide constructive criticism
The praise sandwich is an excellent way to provide constructive criticism without offending. Below is a template. Adjust it to match your situation and needs!
Start by praising the individual and offering them a sincere compliment. Then, move into the difficult topic — the meat of the sandwich. Explain what isn’t working, what you hope to change, ideas to possibly change it, etc. Then, move onto one more positive compliment, and then end the conversation. Always be sure to leave on a positive note!
Use the word ‘I’ so they don’t feel targeted
When you use the word “I,” it makes the individual receiving the criticism feel less like a target. For example, instead of saying “you are always late and you never meet your deadlines,” you could frame the sentence to say, “I notice that you are not punctual and there are many assignments I have to mark late.”
Additionally, by using the word “I,” it becomes easier for the individual to see how their behaviors and actions are affecting their work and the people around them. This can be an excellent tool to help others recognize that their own behaviors and actions can cause a ripple effect.
Be prompt when giving constructive criticism
If you notice an issue or behavior that is a problem, it needs to be addressed right away. Don’t wait for a long period of time to gather the courage. By doing so, you lose the effectiveness of your words and if you use examples (like you should), they will not be as powerful.
However, also make sure the criticism really needs to be said and that it is necessary. By constantly criticizing others, your co-workers will not take your comments seriously and they will disregard them. You may also be viewed as someone who is very negative.
Constructive criticism can be challenging for both parties. But, by implementing the above tips, you can become helpful to your co-workers — no matter their position — and inspire them to improve and succeed.