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Criticise the Work, not the Worker

Constructive criticism can be agonising to deliver, how do you deal with it?

One extreme is to turn a blind eye until the last minute, and the other extreme is to come across as blunt or judgemental which can unintentionally create a defensive, disagreeable relationship with the person on the other end.

If you turn a blind eye and brush it under the rug, you miss the opportunity to help the person to grow. People want to grow, want to develop, want to get better.

Constructive criticism is an essential part of growth. If delivered properly it will facilitate real, positive change. Not all criticism is constructive, and constructive criticism is a skill. If you’ve ever been asked to provide criticism, it pays to spend some time to get good at it first. Feedback delivered in a non-empathetic manner can crush a person’s spirit.

By criticising the work, and not the worker, you remove the personal element of the criticism. Stress is reduced because I can change the work, but I can’t change who I am. Criticising the work in relation to the desired outcome of the project facilitates productive conversation around common goals and objectives.

Relentlessly criticise the work, never criticise the worker.

I came across this concept in Songs of Significance, written by Seth Godin.

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