4 Ways to Give and Take Criticism

Master the delicate art of offering and receiving feedback

Criticism can be tough to take and give, no matter how constructive it is. How should you respond when someone offers up their well-meaning advice? Or what if you’re the one providing feedback to others? Consider these tips for making sure the conversation goes smoothly.

When you criticize others:

Think face-to-face. Have the conversation in person or at least by phone. “You can hear inflection and sincerity,” says Stephanie Chick, a San Diego-based professional coach and author of Deliver the Package: Simple Truths to Help You Set Your Genius Free (The Genius Group L.L.C.; $14.95). “Messages get missed when we try to do this by e-mail or text.”

Emphasize the positive. Use the sandwich method, says Judi Cinéas, Ph.D., a clinical social worker and life coach in Palm Beach, Florida. Start the conversation off with a positive statement about the person, then state the criticism, then follow it up with another positive statement, such as how that change would benefit the person’s life.

When you’re criticized:

Leave the debate at the door. There’s no need to tell someone you think they’re wrong or that you won’t use their advice. However, Cinéas recommends that you ask the critic to provide examples of the behavior you should change so you can better understand his or her viewpoint.

Show appreciation. Whether you use it or not, thank the person for his or her feedback. Chick suggests that if the critique is particularly helpful, let the person giving it know at a later time how you applied it to your life.

Take this quiz to see whether you know the difference between constructive criticism or hating.

ACROSS THE WEB