As much as we love the idea of improving ourselves and our skills, giving someone authority to share with us what we could do better isn’t always the first thing that we welcome.

Constructive criticism, however, is such a valuable tool into seeing how our personalities and our actions are coming across, especially because we all have unique perspectives and valuable insight based on our past experiences that we can offer others. If a friend, superior, or colleague has our improvement in mind and the background and experience to help sharpen us in growth, wouldn’t it be beautiful and beneficial for us to seek their advice?

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What if we truly valued the insight others offered on what we, ourselves, could not easily see? What if we trusted that they had our best interest in mind and wanted us to improve for our own good? What if we took the time to encourage others in that way, too?

It can be easy to put others down or to point out flaws in someone’s character, but it is selfless and valuable to positively support behavior or skills that you admire. Though it may be time-consuming and slightly challenging, acknowledging how someone could improve in a certain aspect of friendship, work, relationships, volunteering, learning a skill — or in any area of life — is rewarding, especially when done with grace.

Here are a few tips to consider when giving constructive criticism:

Share & Affirm
Share what you love about what someone currently does or affirm where they are now. Consider putting yourself in their shoes: what background, skills, and strengths do you observe? What would you like them to be encouraged in and improve in? Examples of praiseworthy qualities in a job are: promptness, a great eye for design, discernment in timing, and an eagerness to learn.

Specifically Suggest
Give your suggestion for what they could do better and why this would benefit them. Be specific — are there particular job aspects that this person tends to make mistakes in? Since everyone can grow in some way, how can you challenge them in whatever stage they are at? For each person, the “why” is very important because this will continue to serve as motivation long after you offer your advice.

Give Your Why
Express why your point of view is valuable. Have you found yourself in a similar situation before? Have you discovered a more efficient way to do something that would save them time, emotional energy, or physical effort? Were you in their position at one point? What advice would you have wanted at the time?

It can be easy to put others down or to point out flaws in someone’s character, but it is selfless and valuable to positively support behavior or skills that you admire.

Encourage & Advocate
Express that you are confident in their ability to perform better after your suggestions. This involves recognizing the potential of others and possibly being an advocate for the ambition that they may have yet to discover.

Release Expectations
Once you’ve given your feedback, release expectations. Part of giving criticism with grace is that at the heart of it is not command or control, but a good-natured suggestion for the improvement of another person. You can’t control someone’s actions or the fact that they may (or may not) act on your advice, but only to give it in good faith.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of such criticism, it’s important to appreciate the time someone took to share it with you. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to follow the advice you receive, but at the very least you can be humbled by receiving a new point of view, the insight that a particular audience has to share, and the effort and investment that was required for them to do so.

Let’s all be willing to ask permission to give great feedback in order to encourage and sharpen others. Let’s be great examples of kind women that not only accept good, constructive criticism, but genuinely welcome and look forward to it, knowing that others have our best in mind and want us to thrive.

What holds you back from either giving or asking for criticism?

Image via Mary Irwin


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