How to Deliver Constructive Criticism Effectively

By September 21, 2017For Companies, For Talent

Nobody likes to be criticised, from the CEO right down to the brand new intern. Which is why it’s a particularly important skill to master.

No matter what your role is, you will probably have to give feedback at one time or another.

Here’s how to deliver constructive criticism that’s to the point and effective.

You can thank us later.


1. Use the sandwich method

No, we don’t mean take them out to lunch to soften the blow. The sandwich method is a well-known feedback technique used by managers and entrepreneurs all over the globe.

The premise is simple. Begin the conversation with a positive comment or word of praise. Next, talk about the area that could be improved. Finally, finish on a positive note.

For example, you could tell a colleague that they’re an excellent writer, but they could work on their interviewing skills. Then finish by complimenting their accuracy and speed.

The criticism is ”sandwiched” between two positives which makes it easier to digest.

2. Keep your body language positive

Did you know that a huge 93% of communication is non-verbal? When delivering constructive criticism you need to pay a lot of attention to your body language.

Body language expert Angela Podolsky recommends standing up straight, uncrossing your arms and legs and looking the person in the eye.

”When you speak, make sure that you are showing the palms of your hands and not pointing your fingers or facing your palms down. Revealing the palm of your hand shows that you have nothing to hide. It shows that you’ve got all your cards on the table.”

3. Use a ”straw man”

Some people just do not like receiving criticism. If someone feels personally attacked by what you are saying, his or her defenses will automatically go up.

A good way to get around this is to use a ”straw man’ i.e. a personal anecdote or story about another colleague who was in the same situation. This will help put the person at ease and allow you to discuss the matter honestly.

4. Time it right

Timing is everything when giving feedback. Never criticise someone in the moment. If your colleague just finished a big presentation do not immediately tell them that they spoke too fast or their slides were too long. Say something complimentary and then choose a better time in the future to deliver your feedback.

It is better to deliver feedback one-on-one. Do not provide constructive feedback in front of others, this should always be done in private.

5. Don’t be a dick

It’s simple, treat people how you want to be treated. Ask yourself, does this person really need to be corrected? Will this feedback help them to perform better in the future?  Does this feedback need to come from me? If you don’t answer yes to all of the above questions then consider saying nothing at all.

Giving good constructive criticism is no easy feat. Sometimes you can do everything right and the person may still take offense. The important thing to remember is that it gets easier with practice.

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Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

More posts by Alice Murray

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