Mastering the Art of Constructive Criticism

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To become better writers, people need to be evaluated, but taking criticism from others is often difficult. The way you tell someone “ You did it wrong” can destroy goodwill and cooperation, or it can build the relationship and help the person learn from the mistake, improve performance, and retain self-esteem. To criticize more constructively, follow these suggestions : Get all the facts first : Don’t accept hearsay or rumors. Find out specifically who did or said what, when, where, why, and how Don’t act in haste : Never act while you’re angry. Think things out before you write or speak, and then explain your criticism calmly, rationally, and objectively. Phrase your remarks impersonally : Criticize the mistake, not the person. Focus your remarks on the action only, and analyze it thoughtfully. Never criticize in an offhand manner : Treat the situation seriously. Take the time to state the problem in detail, explaining what was wrong and why. Avoid an abusive tone : Ridiculing someone, talking down to a person, or using sarcasm prevents people from accepting what you have to say. Make the offense clear : Don’t talk in generalities. Be specific about exactly what was done wrong. Preface the criticism with a kind word or a compliment : Start with a few words of praise or admiration, saying how much you value the person. First the good news, then the bad. Supply the answer : Explain how to do things right. Don’t dwell on the mistake, emphasize how to correct it and how to avoid repeating it. Ask for cooperation : Don’t demand cooperation. Asking makes the person feel like a team member and provides an incentive to improve. Limit yourself to one criticism for each offense : Don’t dredge up or rehash past mistakes. Focus on the current problem. End on a friendly note : Don’t conclude by leaving things up in the air, to be discussed again latter. Settle them now, and make the...
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