How to Give Criticism


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  • Our brains view criticism as a threat to our survival.
  • We remember criticism strongly but inaccurately.
  • Separate the problem from the person or personality.

In our most recent team meeting, we talked about how to best give and receive criticism — particularly at work. Our talk was inspired by Courtney Seiter’s The Art And Science Of Giving And Receiving Criticism At Work.

Our brains tend to do two things when we receive criticism:

  1. Our brains view criticism as a threat to our survival.
  2. We remember criticism strongly but inaccurately.

Let’s dive into how to properly give criticism.

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How to Give Criticism

With that in mind, here’s how to offer criticism in the best way possible:

  • Reflect on the purpose of your criticism – Make sure it’s coming from the right place, such as guidance or support that’s in the recipient’s best interest.
  • Focus on the behavior, not the person – This helps to separate the problem from the recipient’s identity, so it’s more likely to be received well (see the video below).
  • Lead with questions – This way the recipient can be involved in the discussion instead of just receiving a lecture.
  • Follow the Rosenberg method: Observations, Feelings, Needs, Requests – This gives you a simple framework to reduce the feeling of confrontation in the conversation — see the overview here.

This structure will help your criticism be received well and also furthers the best interest of the recipient. How can you implement this approach when dealing with your clients? Next time, we’ll talk about the best way to receive criticism!

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