The dos and don’ts of giving constructive feedback

The dos and don’ts of giving constructive feedback

Human beings tend to avoid criticism. We don’t like being challenged, even in a constructive manner, and often perceive it as being personal. Our desire to avoid criticism can even lead us to blaming external forces such as bad luck, ‘acts of God’, circumstances beyond our control, and even other people. We seem to do this instead of accepting that we have perhaps made a mistake, or that there may be an alternative, potentially better way of tackling a project.

Avoiding or ignoring criticism can ultimately lead to restricting your own growth. By being open to other people’s views, you can often learn something new. A new approach. A new solution. A new skill.

Successful people understand the value of feedback and manage not to see it as a personal attack. By being open to evaluating feedback they can approach issues in a practical and pragmatic manner, using ideas and suggestions from someone other than themselves.

It is true that there may always be people who never seem to like the way you approach things, or solve problems. That is inevitable and is part of what makes us such a diverse species. However, by taking an objective look at constructive criticism received, you will benefit in the long term. Without other people’s ideas and suggestions how would you learn where to start improving? It is far more useful for someone to give you suggestions on how to improve, rather than misleadingly saying that everything is perfect.

So, how should you give constructive feedback?

  • Do it quickly – the sooner someone has your ideas and suggestions, the sooner they can consider implementing them.
  • Don’t take it personally – just because you’ve given feedback, don’t feel put out if the recipient chooses not to implement it. They may have received other feedback they found more useful, or perhaps they are just not yet open to receiving criticism, even the constructive kind!
  • Balance – Don’t just slam someone’s work or idea. Make sure to include the aspects that you like, as well as those you are less keen on.
  • Be specific – Make sure to package your feedback so that it is useful to the recipient. Don’t simply say that you didn’t like something, explain why not and if possible, how you believe it could be improved upon.
  • Manners – Don’t give insults under the guise of giving feedback. Anything personal is best left alone.

So, give constructive feedback and be open to receiving feedback. Things can only improve for you and those around you as a result.


Zoe McCabe

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