Dealing with Constructive Criticism to Influence Performance and Results

A team needs diverse people who think differently to accomplish the most.

Sometimes opinions and decisions are not agreed upon or something needs a little more work or polishing. Learning how to communicate and give good feedback will enrich the quality of the work or the performance of the person doing it with the right delivery. Giving constructive criticism is a good skill to tactfully apply when working with others in business and life. You want to make sure that the feedback you are giving or receiving is positive, constructive and objective so the other party does not get defensive or upset.

When I was practicing public speaking as a Toastmaster, part of the curriculum required you to give evaluations to people giving speeches. It was good practice for the real world figuring out how to be polite yet encourage my colleagues in the group to improve their speaking skills. Since I didn’t know them that well and we weren’t working together, but I had to try to motivate them to enhance their skills in front of the others in the group.

I have also been on the receiving end—given criticism that I would not necessarily call constructive but did force me to improve in my early consulting days. Not everyone is going to agree with you ever. It is easy to get sensitive when your work gets changed or disagreed with but it is part of life unfortunately. Also not everyone is going to care about your feelings which is why you need to not takes things personal when it comes to work and deliverables. Harsh clients in the past have motivated me to improve though I would say at times I have appreciated their character less afterwards because of their delivery.

Leading in with a compliment or saying something positive will help prevent defensiveness and make the conversation go smoother if more needs to be done or agreed upon. If you are honest in nature, people already are or will get used to how direct you are when working with them which will end up making them trust you more too. It is much worse to not say anything or not be clear about your expectations before a project or when reviewing the deliverables if you are unsatisfied.

Working together with others to complete a project or achieve a goal requires different perspectives and skill sets to bring together the best strategies for execution. If you have ever worked with a business partner, you already know you will not always agree and may need to compromise your opinion for the best option for the company, even if sometimes you don’t always agree.

If you are on the receiving end, appreciate where the delivery is coming from. Nothing says amateur more than someone that gets overly worked up and cannot contain themselves in a meeting. It is good to be passionate about your cause, but I don’t take people seriously that are overly emotional in meetings nor do I react to it. The focus can also deviate away from the objectives in these instances.

Your influence diminishes if you act without poise whether you are giving or receiving constructive criticism.