The art of constructive criticism

Insurance Insights | August 3, 2018

The art of constructive criticism


Giving (and receiving) feedback is an art that can make (or break) people. Being open to feedback truly helps us become the best version of ourselves. Read on to find out more about how to be open to feedback.

1. Catch yourself. Before reacting to feedback or criticism, try to not react. Take a deep breath and relax before saying the first thing that pops into your head. Restrain your urge to “retaliate” against the person. Receiving feedback can be challenging, especially from someone you don’t like or respect for whatever reason, but effective feedback can come even from poor sources.

2. Embrace the positive. As you calm yourself, remember the advantages of getting feedback. Feedback gives you an opportunity to learn, improve your skills, revitalize your relationships and better meet other people’s needs.

3. Change your listening. Once you’re ready to engage in productive dialogue, listen closely to what the other person is telling you. Don’t get hung up on anything they say. Listen from the perspective of truly understanding as opposed to coming up with snarky, sarcastic, hostile comebacks. Don’t interrupt your partner and let them fully express their thoughts. Once they’re done, repeat their words back to them to ensure you understood correctly. Avoid attaching moral judgement to the person’s words. Instead, focus on getting their message.

4. Acknowledge the person. Be charitable with your person. Remember that giving feedback is also challenging and that they may be just as nervous, scared and flustered as you. At the end, look them in the eye and genuinely thank them for sharing with you. This doesn’t mean you’re agreeing or caving in or anything like that, but it shows the other person you recognize their effort.

5. Get more details. Ask follow up questions to get further clarity and share your perspective. Avoid debate. Just ask genuine questions and work together on potential solutions. Ask for more specific examples of situations when your colleague’s feedback is relevant.

6. Follow up. Finally, you arrive at a consensus with your colleague regarding what you need to improve and how you could get there. Make sure both of you are on the same page on what needs to be done next and complete the conversation. However, if you’re dealing with a larger challenge, don’t shy away from arranging a follow up meeting to discuss further. Above all, remain gracious throughout the conversation and treat your interlocutor with human decency.

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