Constructive Criticism


Photo credit: Celestine Chua via Foter.com / CC BY

Criticism is an expression that fills many people with anxiety, especially me.  However, when criticism is used in constructive ways it shows how to be better, to improve or to grow.  We all make mistakes, it is a part of life, but the way that criticism is used makes an enormous difference to the results.

When pointing out problems or faults it is important to say to the person how to improve. In no way must someone be criticised without knowing how to improve their situation. They need to be aware why something has to be done in a certain way so they know how to correct the problem.  Use wording such as ‘you should consider this…’ or ‘it would be better if you did this…’ and emphasise how easy it is to correct the mistakes.  Failing that, let them learn from their errors as they will understand why it has to be done and be aware of the consequences.  If a child is told not to swing on their chair.  You tell them not to do it and give the reason why, they will understand.  However if they choose to ignore you and they fall and hurt themselves, they have learned the hard way.

Compliment people on their strong qualities and areas that are working, say to them they make a strong contribution to that area.  Make them feel important by giving recognition and praise.  Encourage people by telling them you know they can do a certain task, explain the benefits and praise even the slightest improvement.  If they are unable to correct the mistake on their own, work together to achieve it.

Tell them your own mistakes and weaknesses and say how you corrected them.  Develop the areas where they are strong and minimise the criticism as much as possible and emphasise praise.

Following these few simple steps is more likely to give you the results you want.  You will more likely change attitudes and develop relationships with respect from the people around you.

Carnegie, Dale. How To Win Friends And Influence People, (Part Four). London: Vermilion, 2006. Print.

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