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Techniques for Constructive Critiques

by | Personal Development

Anybody can provide feedback to someone, but some feedback can be more damaging than constructive. When sharing your ideas and offering up adjustments, don’t forget to take their feelings and development into consideration. Ask yourself, are my ideas or suggestions going to be helpful or harmful? 

If you truly want to see someone thrive and continue growing, you’ll find the best ways to deliver your thoughts and even help implement them.

Offer Instruction

Constructive feedback isn’t about saying, “I think you should fix this because it could be a lot better.” It’s about saying, “I think this area could use some improvement, and I have ideas that might help you.” Don’t just offer your opinion without explaining it and presenting a solution. Feedback is only as good as your intention. Letting the receiver of the critique know your intentions will only make your feedback better

Here are examples of ways you can do that:

DON’T SAY — “You could be a better communicator.” 

DO SAY — “When I was in your position, I really struggled with communication. Here’s a resource that I found helpful and made me a stronger communicator.”

DON’T SAY — “You seem to be working really slowly.” 

DO SAY — “Check out this trick that someone showed me. It’s helped me get my work done twice as fast.”

DON’T SAY — “Your customer service skills are lacking.” 

DO SAY — “The person in this customer service training video is a pro! We could all learn a thing or two from them.”  

If you address how your feedback (and solution) will boost the individual’s performance, they’re more likely to take your advice. As the person giving feedback it helps to pitch your ideas as experiences that you’ve had and learned from. They’re also likely to be more receptive to it if it’s coming from someone who truly cares about their improvement.

Timing is Everything

Although it may be tempting to want to jump into a scenario that you think you can correct, hold back the urge. If you’re watching one of your salespersons struggle with an interaction, observe and take notes. If the conversation is successful, great! Congratulate them and offer them some quick pointers based on the behaviors you noticed. But, in the event that the conversation was unsuccessful, and they lost out on a connection, give them time to cool off. When they’ve calmed down and are ready to try again, give them a smooth walkthrough on how you would’ve approached their previous situation.

Before you give any critiques or feedback, it’s a good idea to check in with your team mate to find out if there are any bigger situations at play. For all you know, their recent drop in performance is due to some personal issues that they’re working through. Or perhaps they’re losing their motivation and they don’t need advice but a little encouragement. Whatever the case, you’ll want to know how your teammate is feeling before you start to tell them what they could do better.

Don’t Dance Around the Subject

Constructive feedback is best received when the person giving it is honest and straightforward. Preface your critique in whatever way you see fit, as long as it’s going to ease the person’s reception of it. You could sandwich the constructive part with some positive encouragement about their performance in other areas. Or you could just say, “I’ve got some advice for you that may be hard to hear at first, but I’m just telling you because I’d want someone else to tell me if I were in your situation.”

Avoid beating around the bush and doing too much to soften the blow. And whatever you do, do not give your feedback via text or e-mail. Talk to them in person. Be precise rather than vague about what you’d like them to adjust. You know exactly what behaviors are going to improve their performance and make them better in their position. You also know what’s holding them back from reaching their true potential. So, let them know what you’d like to see them stop doing and what you recommend they start doing. Once you give them this feedback, you can tell them what to expect from making those changes.

Be Honest and Helpful

Your ultimate goal in giving feedback should be to help the other person grow and reach their peak performance. If this isn’t your goal, your intentions aren’t sincere. Your approach to feedback should demonstrate your investment in them, your confidence in the suggestions you’re making, and how the same feedback has helped you or someone else. As a part of a team, it’s your responsibility to see that your teammates are being given every opportunity to thrive, grow, and learn. Remember, you’re looking to give constructive critiques, so build your team up!

If you’re someone who knows how to give feedback, but you just can’t seem to take it, you might consider learning how to become less offendable.

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