How To Give Criticism
I actually struggle when it comes to offering useful criticism to others. I want to be helpful, but I’m not entirely certain that my advice will be and I’m worried about offending them. When working with others it’s important to understand how to offer criticism otherwise people will feel uncomfortable being open with their ideas around you. You may end up missing out on something really important because people were too afraid to share with you. If you find that people seem to act defensively towards your feedback then maybe you’re coming across as being a little too harsh. Remember, for most people it can be difficult to know how to receive criticism positively.
When I give criticism I remember a passage that I read in the book, ‘The Ultimate Guide To Video Game Writing And Design.’ The passage suggests opening up with a positive to put the other person at ease, then delivering the negatives. Afterwards move back to a positive so that the whole process doesn’t end on a low for them.
Not all useful feedback has to be in the form of ‘what went wrong.’ Sometimes telling a person what has gone well can help to assure them that they are moving in the right direction. Some people have a tough approach to helping others – cruel to be kind. Push them hard and they’ll come back stronger. I don’t think this approach works in every case though. I always try to give things my all and if in return I’m thrown too much negative criticism I will end up feeling deflated and may even give up on an idea altogether. I think it’s good to give the odd positive response because some people need the confidence boost.
If you are going to inform somebody that you don’t like something at least try to do so in a useful way. Simply stating ‘I think this is rubbish’ is hurtful and leaves the other person wondering what they did wrong. Sometimes it’s difficult to know why we feel a certain way, but you have to try and offer a valid reason otherwise the other person will not know how to make the necessary improvements. Be careful with your use of language and don’t get personal. Think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed.
Lastly I think it’s important to understand that everybody reacts to things differently. Some people find discussions more exciting when they heat up a little, while others are more sensitive. Different people also find different things offensive. How you choose to offer your feedback should also be based on the person who is receiving it. For example, I have a friend who I often have disagreements with resulting in raised voices, but this is just playful banter and I know he won’t take offence at the odd colourful remark. I also have another friend who feels uncomfortable in that same type of situation so I try to act much more calmly around him.