Tagged With criticism


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.


Nobody likes to be told they're doing something wrong, especially not in a workplace. Some people dislike it more than others; they may feel anger or embarrassment when they are being criticised, by their peers or their superiors. But feedback is an important part of professional development and learning to deal with criticism -- rather than stewing over it -- will contribute to a more fruitful career.


The "sandwich" method of feedback, where you squish criticism between compliments to smooth it over, is played out and everyone knows it. Most of us cringe when we hear someone suggest it, and even when it works, it's obvious. Adam Grant, author and professor, says it's time to just give it up, and we agree.


In an effort to be kind, you might water down your critiques by saying something like "maybe it's just me but..." And while those qualifiers are coming from a good place, chances are the person receiving it will just think you're just being passive-aggressive and not so subtly hiding what you're really trying to say.


There are many situations where nuance, subtlety and carefully crafted diplomacy in communications are critical. But most of the time, plain directness can go a long way.


I've always envied people who can graciously accept constructive criticism. It seems I was not born with that trait, and throughout my career I've struggled with receiving feedback, even when it was entirely accurate. At the moment I hear the words of critique, my heartbeat quickens and my mind begins to race -- first in search of an explanation for this assault on my person and then for a retort to rationalise whatever actions are in question.


Criticism can be helpful, but all too often it comes in a form that's light on feedback and heavy on snark and sarcasm. That doesn't make it less valuable: you just have to learn how to manage your critics to get the most useful information out of them.