You might be in a position of authority and would want people working under you to improve. You might know someone who you think needs some friendly advice that would help them get back on track. You might be in a relationship and think your partner needs to work on certain areas. What is the right way of doing it? Does being patronizing and dismissive of someone really help them improve? You would be risking hurting people and ruining professional or personal relationships if you choose to follow these. On the other hand, if helping someone is your motive, you must focus on giving constructive criticism.
Feedback Sandwich or Positive-Improvement-Positive Method
Often used in the corporate setting to encourage and motivate employees, this method can be further broken down into three parts. In this method, you start with focusing on the positives of the person or whatever is the concerned matter here. You then move on to what you think are the areas that can be worked upon and need improvement. Finally, you reiterate what you think are the positives and working on the mentioned areas can bring out desired results.
Refrain from making personal comments
While you are trying to give a feedback, do not make comments that might be perceived as personal attack. The focus here should be on the situation and not on the person. The good way to go about it is by isolating the situation from the concerned person first. The comment you make must be focused on the issue at hand. When you are sharing your feedback, make sure you use passive voice as active voice might come out too strong. Lastly, end it with how you are affected in the scheme of things and why you would like for certain things to change.
Keep it objective and specific
If you really want someone to improve from the feedback you share, you need to keep it specific and to-the-point. While you must be careful of the points mentioned before, you need to be clear on what exactly you want the other person to change. A typical example of a specific and constructive criticism is when you just do not leave it at mentioning the problem. You need to mention the areas where you see improvement happening and how that can be achieved. This will make the situation actionable and the criticism constructive.
Do a quick self check
This is no less important than any of the above mentioned points. Ask yourself if you are in a position to constructively criticizing someone. You should be completely convinced that the intentions are nothing but positive. If you are not convinced of the same and the idea of going ahead with it is indeed stemming from something personal, your bluff will be called.
Extend a helping hand
You must never make assumptions when you are trying to give constructive criticism. If you feel you are in a position to correct someone, you must also have ideas on how they can improve. Share your inputs on how to make the situation better but choose your words carefully. Let the other person share his concerns. Extend your support and make the him feel comfortable. This way, even if your feedback is a negative one, you will be able to end the conversation on a positive note.
There is a time and place for everything
You should not start with your valuable comments in the middle of something important. There might be more pertinent issues at hand that need to be addressed first. Once you know that the situation is favourable, take the person aside and speak to him in person. Making the person comfortable will not make him feel threatened and will ease the situation for both of you.
Constructive criticism has the power to help people grow. Whether you share it in a professional setting or a personal equation, you would be doing the person concerned and yourself a world of good by sharing your feedback. You just need to abide by the above mentioned ways and your purpose will be served.
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