A short guide to constructive criticism

October 11, 2019

People try out new things everyday, they experiment, or sometimes just go about their daily jobs. For a lot of things, there’s always room for improvement, and it’s up to people to provide feedback when necessary to help the person in question improve.

By definition, Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. - Definitions.net

I was at a dinner recently and a couple people were talking about constructive criticism at the end of the table. Their conversation was around criticisms and it was actually the best wordings for thoughts that had been in my head for a long time.

When criticizing work done, like many things, it’s easy for people to say whatever they like and automatically assume it’s constructive, these 3 steps will guide you the next time you’re about to make a criticism - or shut up.

1. Do you understand what the end goal is?

You cannot criticize something if you don’t fully understand what the result is supposed to be. You can’t be throwing “I don’t know” around and claim to be providing constructive criticism. If you’re certain you understand, then move to the next step.

2. Do you understand what is currently being done?

To provide criticism that’s worth it, you need to also understand what’s currently being done, what the shortcomings are and why it needs to be improved. This helps in clearly highlighting the areas that needs improvements and why they do for better communication.

3. Understand and communicate the improvements that can be made and why

We are at the end now, you’ve evaluated the entire thing. From understanding where the current solution is lacking, you can present your solutions to the person in question and clearly mention how these steps will be an improvement.

With your response presented in this manner, the person in question can learn why the decisions and steps they had made were falling short and also get to understand how your suggestions are about to improve their solution.

If your end goal is truly to improve the solution, then these should come in handy for you.

Let me know your thoughts or how you have tried to make constructive criticisms.


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