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Giving constructive criticism

We face this situation regularly in our jobs.

Needing to give negative feedback.

And my limited survey suggests that most people are atrocious at this.

We oscillate between just letting it go and avoid the confrontation to giving the person an earful to get the irritation out of our system.

I thought this post distilled it down to 5 simple aspects to keep in mind

1. Avoid sweeping generalisations : Be specific about the issue we want to talk about. Is it a person or an activity?

2. Differentiate between instances and patterns : One error doesn’t make a pattern or trend. If it is a mistake treat it as such.

3. Passion doesn’t trump decorum : Don’t let emotion overcome you such that it interferes with your ability to give proper feedback

4. Alternatives speak volumes : Don’t criticise without giving a better way, or your preferred way, to have done it.

5. Take it to the source : If you have an issue with a person or a department, then take it up with that person/department.

Great article. Recommend reading it.


  1. December 1, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I thought you wrote this piece.
    I know I am guilty of doing it wrong a lot of times on all 5 counts.
    Having taken up facilitation for a living I feel a sense of liberation now.

    I can be critical without the raving & ranting, the sharp tongue and the sarcasm. The language of facilitation and coaching is more empowering.

    Add one more point to the list. We must listen and learn to distinguish from facts, feelings and opinions. It makes a huge difference.


      December 1, 2009 at 1:07 am

      Thanks Sridhar. I believe we are all guilty of this at some time or the other. Thanks for stopping by.

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