Production line assembly.
Illustration via Pixabay.

Criticism is hard to take and to give! This is a follow-on post from a previous post: Criticism is not (always) insult where I wrote about a business’ active resistance to constructive criticism from customers.

A constructive criticism has these key aspects:

A constructive criticism is:

Here are the steps I use when I write critiques:

  1. Draft a few honest unfiltered messages to begin. These are never, ever, to be sent out. Write these outside of your email program, just to be on the safe side.
  2. Wait a few hours or days (or even weeks if necessary.) Until you are able to review what you had written calmly.
  3. Edit your drafts. Take out any irrational and overly emotional aspects, add in genuine positive praise and sincere acknowledgements, and, where appropriate, suggest constructive actions. See list above.
  4. Imagine what it would be like if you were the recipient of your criticism. Are the facts correct? Are there any unwarranted claims? Do your positive comments read as genuine (or passive aggressive)? Are your requests and suggestions reasonable?
  5. Wait a while longer if needed. Edit again. Is what you have written suitable for public release, with your name on the bottom?
  6. Send.

Regardless of our best intentions, our critique can still be received negatively. The recipient can choose to perceive the message as an attack, respond defensively, and go on to attack us. There is no guarantee that our criticism will be received or that it will change anything.

Read related posts in this series:

  1. JotterPad customer experience fail
  2. Criticism is not (always) insult
  3. Composing constructive criticism [this post]