Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 1:25 am | Fair 43º


John Daly: How to Provide Constructive Criticism

I recently had to opportunity to observe a manager handing out criticism to his team members. What I noticed is that the criticism was less “constructive” and more “destructive.” This inspired me to come up with a list of tips for anyone in a position to provide positive feedback that is needed and wanted.

First, consider your attitude about the person to be critiqued. Be honest. If you have any negative thoughts about this person, it isn’t appropriate for you to offer him or her advice.

Begin and close with a compliment. At the start, always find something positive to say. This will make the team member feel good about the advice you are providing. Close with another compliment. This will prevent the person from feeling like a failure or that you are angry.

Make eye contact with the person you are critiquing. This tells the person you are being honest and sincere. Really focus on the person. Don’t offer suggestions over your shoulder, or while you are busy multitasking.

Take care with your tone of voice. This communicates more than your words. If your voice is harsh, has an edge or you are flippant with them, criticism will be harder for them to swallow from you.

Try not to say anything that is hurtful. Rather than trying to be harsh and “in command,” be gentle. For instance, say something like, “I really like the way you speak to your supervisor. Your team members would really respond well to you if you spoke to them the same way.”

Talk about the behavior, not the person. Don’t be insulting. Don’t make your criticism personal. Focus on the fact that providing feedback is a way to illustrate a person’s improvement. Don’t say, “You are a terrible example for other people.” Rather, “You are your team’s role model. Your behavior is teaching them the incorrect way to lead others.”

If possible, deliver criticism light-heartedly. This “lifts the air around both of you.” It makes what you have to say more positive. Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a speaker and business consultant, affirms that “Humor doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the feedback you are giving. It actually helps the person receiving the direction to open up and take it in.”

Don’t nag. Don’t hold a grudge. Once you have offered constructive criticism, let it go. The person will either accept your advice or ignore it. She or he will have to suffer the consequences if the choice is to ignore helpful advice. 

Never give criticism in front of others or at a bad time. Provide criticism in private. When someone is hungry or tired, he or she may not be in the best frame of mind to absorb your advice. So choose the time and place wisely to assure the best possible outcome for offering your advice.

Dr. Goldsmith, who presents to companies, associations and leaders worldwide, offers that these are the best tools to make teams strong. He feels that knowing how to give feedback and constructive criticism in a way that it is taken in and learned from may be a leader’s greatest tool for effective team building.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >