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The Constructive Art of Criticism

Nobody likes to be criticised. Being told that your idea, words, action or outputs aren’t right or good enough can really hurt and it is very hard to not take it personally.

So it is important to learn both how to give criticism effectively and also, how to take it and make it work for you. Of course, theory is easy – but here are some tips to start practicing, not only at work but also in your personal life – and with time, you may find you’re quite good at both the giving and the taking.


  • Consider your intention first. If you’re angry with the person or have negative feelings about them – you aren’t the right person to be delivering criticism. The idea is to actually help someone, so if your intention is only to cut them down or belittle them, rather keep quiet.
  • Make sure you are specific. The person should clearly be able to understand what you’re criticising and you cannot bring up all the things they have done over a period of time either – criticism cannot be vague.
  • Always have a solution to offer. Constructive criticism is about helping someone to do something differently and giving them opportunities to apply that change positively.
  • Criticise behavior, not the person. You are not attacking, you’re providing a platform for learning and growth and the receiver must feel that difference.
  • Don’t keep going on about it. Make your point, but if the conversation starts becoming negative or destructive it’s time to move on.


  • Keep an open mind. When someone is giving you feedback, give them a chance to finish and listen well. If they’re being constructive, there’s a good chance you’ll learn something if you allow yourself too.
  • Don’t get intimidated. Ask a lot of questions, make sure you understand the whole picture and get the explanation you need to move forward.
  • Don’t be argumentative. Even if you are hurt or upset by the comments you are hearing, keep calm and process the information so that you don’t react inappropriately and turn criticism into conflict.
  • Say thank you. If someone has taken the time to approach you constructively and offer solutions for you to improve in any way, you should take the time to appreciate their interest in you and their belief in your ability to grow.

So whether your giving or you’re getting, learn to tell the difference between malicious and constructive criticism and practice being gentle and kind. True constructive criticism is empowering, take it in and use it to your advantage.

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