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Giving criticism confidently – 10 Tips

Red smoke 

Sometimes, even in the best relationship, there comes a time when we want to say something critical.  Not everything can be perfect every time!  Sometimes things go wrong.  And sometimes, in your view, it is down to the other person.  You think it is something they can do something about.  So you want to tell them. 
Here are some pointers to giving criticism but proceed with care. And remember, how you sound,  look and behave when you give the feedback often matters as much weight as the words you use.  But the words are important.  
Here are the tips.

  1. Be sure of the facts!  Try to find out exactly what went wrong and why. 
  2. Be constructive! It should be about getting things right in the future not about trying to punish. 
  3. Be direct! Get to the point and give the feedback in a simple, straight forward way.
  4. Be clear! Set out what you are criticizing, the change you want to see and why.  Comment on behaviour not the person. If you want to change the person this is more than a case of giving criticism.
  5. Be sincere! Say what you mean and mean what you say Sincerity means you speak with care and respect. Don’t send a mixed message – for example “I think you are all wonderful but there is just this little thing I’d like to mention”.  This usually means the real purpose of the message gets lost. Putting the “but” in the middle just creates contradictions
  6. Be serious! Express concern but do not become emotional.  Getting angry and showing frustration will distort the messages.  Again remember you are trying to create awareness not to create noise, vent and make yourself feel better.   
  7. Be objective! State what you have observed and the evidence you have gathered.  Don’t try to interpret or to attribute motives – nothing can be more infuriating to the other person. 
  8. Be live! Criticism is best handled directly person to person; not through someone else or through technology – for example an email.
  9. Be on time! Don’t do this when you are angry if you want a good result.  Giving criticism is best not confused with venting.  Speak close as possible to the event or the behavior.  When everything is fresh in both your minds, your comments will have far greater impact than further down the line when you may have forgotten exactly what happened.
  10. Be kind! Do not choose a moment when you know the other person is feeling tired or hurt by some other life event.  And do listen when the other person responds – there may be something you just have not taken into account.
Those are my 10 tips for giving criticism.  Do you agree?  Send me your thoughts and observations by commenting below.
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Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114 


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