Constructive criticism is one of the necessary evils of the workplace: No one likes to give it and certainly no one revels in receiving it, and yet it’s a crucial component of growth in our careers and in life. Beyond being gentle and respectful with each other when we give it, there’s one more important consideration to make so that it’s received as well as possible: Timing.
So it might be better to give feedback in the morning, when a person’s capacity for self-regulation and self-control (which the researchers connect to accepting negative feedback) are at their highest.
“The more tired and worn down we get, the less patience we have, and the more testy we can become,” reports Quartz.
That doesn’t mean waiting for your coworker or employee by the door as they walk in in the morning, but you might schedule a meeting earlier in the day so that you catch them when they’re most receptive.
Additionally, consider the environment and context in which you’re giving the feedback: Did the person you’re talking to just lose a client, flop a presentation, or break up with the significant other? Wait a day or so to give them more bad news.
“If they have a tough meeting, or trouble at home on a given day, avoid giving negative feedback, as their capacity for self-regulation and motivation to learn from it will probably be low,” adds Quartz.
One final way to make constructive criticism more palatable: Bookend it with a positive statement or two.