7 key principals to learn How to criticize

How to CriticizeIt’s highly unlikely that we agree with each and every one we meet in life. Whether it’s an employee, a colleague, business partner, client or Boss differences in ideas are bound to happen.

A similar incident happened with me recently. We criticize to give feedback to the other party so that he/she can improve and both our lives can be better. But things are not always taken in the right spirit.  The outcome of my criticism was way far from what I expected.

The biggest mistake that we all do while criticizing anyone is that we contradict the golden rule. But apart from the golden rule (coming up), there are other pointers too that we need to take care of.

I learnt my lessons after having a spoiled relationship with a long known colleague.  And to reduce any such instances later I compiled the list of 7 key Principles that we need to understand before providing criticism. Some of these were learnt from others, rest of them is by mere observations. Hence open to any feedback. Here we go.

  1. Do not criticize in public – This can probably be termed as the Golden rule of criticism. Nothing can harm your repute more, than criticizing in public. Though criticism in front of the whole office might give you some ego boost it will not result in any positive outcome as the person been criticized will pay attention to what and how others are reacting to the given situation. He or she will never understand what you are communicating because the environment is not right. Worse still it may permanently detriment his or her relationship with you.
  2. Do not criticize the person, criticize his deeds – We need to watch our words carefully before providing any form of criticism. Let’s take an example. Here are 2 sentences. “John doing things this way is wrong” and the other way “John you are wrong because you did these things”. The two sentences may literally go neck to neck, but when received at a subconscious level, the first says not to do things in a particular way and shows you a way to be good by not doing them.  The other sentence says you are wrong and that’s it; nothing will be thought beyond this understanding. Though whatever way you use if your sentence says that the other person is wrong, he might not hear to you any further.
  3. Do not criticize for your pleasure – This one is from observations. At times we just go too much hard. While criticizing we need to understand that the way a person will recover from his wrong doing is no where in proportion to the time you criticize him. Criticism is for once, than you have to wait for the person to improve. If the same criticism is provided frequently, or for long hours it just creates unrest. End of the day we need to realize that criticizing some one for relaxing our mind is just a temporary solution. So the next time you are about to criticize just think “Do I want to improve this guy or am I  trying to just spill down my wrath over him”
  4. Criticize with motivation – It is very obvious that when you are criticized you feel neglected for your good work. It feels as if whatever goes wrong is noticed and whatever is worthy is not talked about. This makes the person think in the wrong direction and not improve. It’s very important that we even repeat what is good about that person. It is rather advised to highlight that he is perfectly alright and is criticized just for ‘that one task’, this way you motivate and pull him out from doing similar things again.
  5. Criticize with solution – Many a times we criticize our juniors for what wrong they did. What we don’t realize is that we never explained them how to do their tasks, the right way! Your criticism should always have a solution in it. Explain the solution well, and if the task is long enough you might be required to follow up on the progress. This makes the other person comfortable and gives an impetus to him to do things the right way. Criticizing your partner without any solution is wrath.
  6. Don’t be an extremist while criticizing – “You ‘always’ do things this way”. “This is the ‘most pathetic way’ to do this task”. These sentences are absolutely wrong. Sentences that use extreme words just satisfy your ego and do no good. Criticism is also a form of communication and using right words is very important for effectiveness of the same. Words like Most, Always, Absolutely, completely are no truth at all!
  7. End criticism on an optimistic note – This is the “Call to action” for your criticism. Have complete trust on the person and let that get communicated via your message. If you end up on a positive note you double your chances of getting better results the next time. Have a Call to Action where the person knows how to prevent that mistake again. Remember Hope is what will bring zeal to the team.

These were a few lessons that I found worth sharing with you. Hope you had a good read with these and remember I am open to any criticism. Rather you can even provide me feedback via this survey http://bit.ly/bizSurvey

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”  – Abraham Lincoln

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Gil Pizano March 30, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Good article Chanda! Thanks for taking the time to share these very wise thoughts. The point on “Do not criticize for your pleasure” is probably the one many need to take to heart. Unfortunately, too many people feel the need to criticize simply to feel they are providing some value from themselves (many times to themselves) and not necesarily improving or preventing the issue being criticized. Because of this, some people criticize to feel empowered or shall I say “Hear themselves doing the criticism so that they feel important or all knowing and wise on the subject being criticized.

Again good article and thanks for sharing.

Gil Pizano


Chanda Himanshu March 31, 2010 at 10:37 am

Thanks for the comment Gill. Yes as you rightly said it is more of a self fulfilling act rather than a help when we get into that mode. And as you articulated well it is more for us to hear rather than communicate that we criticize others and get pleasure.

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate.

Christopher April 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Excellent words of wisdom for any situation. If people just thought about what they are saying things would be all together different.

Oh and the guy in the picture frightens me a bit….

Chanda Himanshu April 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Agree to you Chris. I guess its the impulsive feeling to just let the wrath get on the other person which pulls us away from our sane mind while criticizing.

And yes the pic was chosen after some good searching, Also have a more freaking one. Will have that for a post on Anger Management …

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