How to Respectfully Give Criticism at Work

The result of criticism nine times out of ten is an improvement. Criticism can occasionally be necessary for a work environment so that standards are met, and progress is made. However, the thought of assessing your co-workers, and possibly even your boss, can be intimidating. If done respectfully though, and in an appropriate setting, critiques could prove to be incredibly beneficial in the long run. Here are a few tips on how to give considerate criticism at work.

Remain optimistic and offer your opinions with a positive attitude. Nothing could make the person on the receiving end of criticism feel more hopeless about their work than the person criticizing doing it negatively. Professional criticism is meant to escalate a person’s abilities, not to tear them down. Offering a compliment along with a critique can be a good way to reassure someone of their abilities before suggesting where you see room for improvement.

Use “I” rather than “You.” By using statements that begin with “I,” such as, “I think this could be better if…” instead of using ones that start with “you,” like “you always forget this…” it automatically becomes less harsh. Stating something as your personal opinion won’t make the critique sound accusatory. Ensuring that whoever you are assessing feels respected in that situation is the most important factor.

Talk to them in person. It is very easy to misunderstand things over email or text message. The best way to handle situations in which you are providing criticism is to do so in person. Having a face to face conversation is the most respectful and authentic way to offer criticism. Avoid misunderstandings by taking the time to address someone in person. It is worth the extra few minutes of time!

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