Constructive Criticism – Meaning, Importance, Examples & How to give & Accept it

Constructive criticism is giving reviews in a way that takes the pros and cons into account. Instead of pay attention to negatives, providing helpful feedback on where improvement is possible.

Constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.”  – Elon Musk

What is Constructive Criticism?

Constructive Criticism

The aim of giving constructive criticism is to provide valuable advice that may be used for getting better results. Constructive criticism can be seen as a type of positive feedback by some.

Some can see constructive criticism as a way to gain the confidence of the employee. Being able to give constructive criticism is a leadership skill.

Importance of Constructive Criticism

  • It encourages people and doesn’t reduce people’s morale because of negative feedback.
  • Constructive criticism that is given correctly pays attention to improvement in the future rather than present mistakes.
  • This is how it differs from regular criticism.
  • Negatives criticism ignores demonstrating how to improve.
  • Constructive criticism gives better results quicker. The receiver knows how and what to improve.

How to Provide Constructive Criticism?

1. Don’t Assume

  • While criticizing, one should do it according to what is known for sure about the receiver and the issue.
  • Making assumptions makes the receiver look bad and also makes the criticizer look bad, especially if the critique is wrong.

2. Talk about things that can be worked upon

  • The goal of feedback is to improve the individual.
  • Criticizing things that can be worked on makes criticism constructive. Otherwise, it only makes the receiver feel bad.

3. Concentrate on the Goal and Not the Receiver

  • Making feedbacks personal makes the receiver feel attacked.
  • Rather, one should talk in a way that refers to the work and not the person, especially in the workplace.

4. Provide Possible Advice & Solutions

  • Advice that doesn’t mention how to start improving will not be useful.
  • If an effort doesn’t meet the standards, one has to be particular about it and provide feedback on how to improve.

5. Scope for Improving Rather than Negatives

  • Constructive criticism tries to achieve better results faster.
  • It is better to recognize the minor aspects as a scope for improvement. This is because it admits that work has been done, but results can be improved.

6. Start with the Positive

  • Constructive criticism depends on being positive and acknowledging the efforts without discouraging the receiver.
  • A popular method is to ‘sandwich’ a constructive comment among two positive ones.

How to accept Constructive Criticism?

1. Request Follow Up Time

If it’s a big problem or something presented by the employer, one could ask for a follow-up meeting for more queries and figure out the next steps.

2. Ask Questions to Understand the Criticism

After this, it’s important to understand the feedback and gain clarity. One should avoid arguments. Instead, they should try to solve the problems by getting to the root of them.

3. Thank the Person

Showing appreciation doesn’t mean agreement with the assessment. It expresses how one is accepting the effort the co-worker has taken for assessment and sharing what they think.

4. Listen to Understand Better

When someone is criticizing, the receiver should listen closely. The person should be allowed to express fully minus interruption.

During this, one shouldn’t question or analyze the critique. Rather, they should concentrate on understanding the comments.

5. Keep in mind the benefit of Constructive Criticism

One should know the benefits of feedback. It can improve your relationships, skills, and work product to reach goals that a boss or co-workers have set.

One should halt reactions to a person who is criticizing.

6. Control the First Reaction

One should stop and reflect when one is being criticized. One second is enough time for the brain to understand the situation.

Constructive Criticism Example

Scenario 1

A worker always misses crucial deadlines. They must be reminded that they have to be punctual, or else everything becomes off track.

What can be said is

“I’ve seen that your sales report has not arrived on time for the last couple of months. I know you’re occupied.

But I need you to reduce your on-time delivery because these delays really throw the rest of the team off track.

What can I do to assist you in managing your workload and help you not fall behind?”

Scenario 2

A hardworking employee who usually comes late for work

What can be said is

“Hi Jack, I have been reviewing everyone’s performance in these months and you have done very well.

You can do even better by coming early every day.  You’ll have a good work/life balance, too.”


Constructive Criticism Example

In the recent book, No Rules Rules, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings credits the Netflix culture for the brand’s incredible success.

Despite the focus mostly on Netflix’s popular unlimited vacation policy, Hastings and Erin Meyer, his co-author, credit another method as the critical measure to creating a great culture: “Encourage Candid Feedback”.

“With candor, high performers become outstanding performers. Frequent candid feedback exponentially magnifies the speed and effectiveness of your team,” they write.

Candid feedback doesn’t come naturally. It has to be encouraged top down. Netflix employees are told to “say what you really think–with positive intent.”