What is Constructive Criticism?
Usually the goal in constructive criticism is to critique an individual so they will benefit or improve. We frequently see this especially when adults are teaching children in sports, to increase their knowledge and performance. We also see this in the workplace, when a supervisor is critiquing an employee with the goal in mind to improve their performance or work habits. Unfortunately in this day and age, especially in athletics, we find it more and more difficult to give any type of criticism to children at the grade school, high school and even college level. Bobby Knight all too well has found this out, when he was coaching for the University of Indiana. His techniques needless to say reached the ultimate extreme in criticism, and was by far not that constructive.
How to Implement Constructive Criticism?
The question remains, how do we give constructive criticism without appearing to be phony or couching the constructive criticism to a point where the person does not take it seriously?
- Constructive criticism has to be genuine. A person giving this criticism has to genuinely feel it is important to give it.
- The person receiving the criticism must have some level of understanding of your role, and understand that you truly want them to improve.
- Do not use statements like, “I want you to…”, “You must understand…”, “You must see the difference…”, “I need you to…”. You are immediately setting the stage for the individual to become defensive, especially if there is already a bad history of communication.
- Take a team approach. In other words, sentences like, “Let us look at the following…”, “Let us look at how you are dribbling or passing the ball, and how we can improve your passing ability or your shooting technique so you can improve and be a better basketball player.” At the job setting, “Let’s brainstorm together”, “Let’s put our heads together and think of how we can achieve an increase in sales, so not only will company, but you will improve your marketing and sales techniques.” By doing this, you have created a collegiate type atmosphere. Both individuals are on the same level. Now you can set the stage to critique, not criticize, and then begin to construct a foundation for improvement.
Effective constructive criticism happens every day of our lives; most of the time we are very unaware that it is even happening. Constructive criticism occurs in relationships, at the workplace and at school. There are times it can be manipulative with a selfish intent. This does not mean the criticism is not helpful, one just needs to consider the source and intent.
In closing, constructive criticism takes time and practice. If we want our children or our employees to accept constructive criticism immediately, that will not happen. Constructive criticism presented in a positive way, as well as open communication, takes practice. Constructive criticism must be used effectively if the receiver is to improve.