How to criticize someone without affecting his/her confidence

What is Constructive Criticism?

Criticism: The expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.

Constructive: Having or intended to have a useful or beneficial purpose.


How to give constructive Criticism

1. Listen attentively to his rationale and see things from their perspective.

Imagine investing 10hrs daily on a project for 3-months only for your mentor or supervisor who is meant to critique your work to tell you “Not Needed”, without a reason or any form of explanation. How how would that make you feel?

2. Find something to compliment, not flatter.

Most times when critiquing someone’s work, we just want to be nice. Being nice isn’t constructive, because it won’t be helpful. Flattery wouldn’t work because it is insincere. So, in a situation where you don’t seem to find something to compliment, you could compliment their efforts.

3. Focus on the work, not the person.

Learning to separate a person from his work is a skill one should learn. When critiquing others, you need to let them understand that it is not an attack on their personality. If Bimpe is a bad designer, that does’nt make her a bad person. There are a lot of things hse is very good at that you don’t know of. She just hasn’t spent enough time with designs.

4. Don’t tell him he is wrong. Even if you are in a place of authority.

Telling a person he is wrong doesn’t make things better.

5. Make it conversational.

Making it conversational gives him the opportunity to feel present, he doesn’t feel judged/attacked and it would also make him feel heard and understood. This also makes them feel you are just out to help and that you have their best interest at heart. Give him the opportunity to justify himself

6. Be specific and straight forward.

Tell him what he did wrong, Why it is wrong and how he can do it better.

7.  Make suggestions not orders.

Instead of saying, “Bimpe, watch at least 10 videos daily to improve your skill”, “could you watch at least 10 videos daily to improve your skill?” or “you could watch at least 10 videos daily to improve your skill”. This is very useful.

8. Don’t Criticize them in public.

Criticize them in private, praise them in public.


In conclusion, here is a  general formula to giving constructive critiques;

  • Compliment thrice
  • Give your suggestion without a “but”

Example: I love the fact that you did A, I also love the fact that did B, Your C is just so lovely. Don’t you think this would be better if you had done ……… (because whatever you think is faulty is based on your perspective. Make sure you establish a common ground).

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