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8 - Giving Great Constructive Criticism

Today I talk about giving great constructive criticism. While many of use are seeking self-improvement, a reality we must face is that we are not able to recognize our own flaws. This means that we are reliant on others to assess where we fall short. The critiques we give others is imperative in the improvement of their lives, and we have a responsibility to deliver the greatest value we can possible.

Today I'm talking about how to give constructive criticism:

Many people are focused on self-growth and on finding ways to progress their skill-set. More often than not, we are unable to fully recognize our own faults and shortcomings independently. We must rely on the feedback of other people to truly assess areas of ourself or of our work that need improvement.

Individually, we have a responsibility to best identify the flaws in those closest to us and help them grow past them. This is easier said than done, as it is simple to personalize the critiques we hear from others, especially when we make ourselves vulnerable.

These are some tips that I try to follow when giving constructive criticism:

  1. Verify the Recipient is Willing You might have strong personal convictions about all sorts of subjects. That does not mean that anyone wants to hear about it. Verify with the recipient of the criticism that they actually want to hear your criticism.
  2. Be As Specific As Possible When possible, always drill down to the root cause of the issue. When something feels wrong, take the time to investigate the symptom instead of lazily reporting the surface level problem.
  3. Mix the good and the bad Always critiquing someones work will become tiresome and discouraging to listen to. Positive reinforcement is a handy morale boost. It's important to provide a metaphorical spoonful of sugar alongside the remedy.
  4. Provide Examples of Improvement Whether you like it or not, providing criticism frames you as an antagonist to the receiving individual. Providing a few examples of how to fix a problem instantly changes this framing to a more collaborative one.

Great constructive criticism provides immeasurable value to those willing to embrace it and act upon it. Our criticism should be designed to be as consumable as possible to increase the actionability of our insight, and help make the lives of those around us as good as they can be.

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you tomorrow