Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

How to Handle Constructive Criticism in the Workplace | 2023

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In the workplace, constructive criticism can assist individuals to recognize what they’re doing well and where they need help.

Professional development, clear expectations, greater working relationships, and overall organizational growth are all advantages.

Workers recognize the importance of constructive criticism and prefer it to praise and congratulatory remarks.

A Harvard Business Review survey found that respondents believe constructive criticism improves their performance more than positive feedback by a three-to-one margin.

57 percent of responders prefer positive feedback above constructive criticism (43 percent).

Despite the benefits of constructive criticism and the desire to accept it in the workplace, the study found that many find it difficult to handle it.

The following pointers will assist you in making this process as simple and efficient as possible.

Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

What is Constructive Criticism in the Workplace?

Instead of focusing exclusively on the negatives, constructive criticism involves delivering feedback that acknowledges both the positives and areas for growth.

The goal of constructive criticism is to provide meaningful recommendations that may be implemented to improve outcomes. Some people consider constructive criticism to be beneficial feedback.

It is considered a leadership skill to be able to deliver constructive criticism. It is claimed to stimulate people rather than demoralize them as a result of negative feedback.

Because properly provided constructive criticism focuses on future improvement rather than current flaws, this is the case.

So that the person receiving feedback has a starting point for improvement, the person giving feedback provides explicit steps on what can be done differently.

This is the crucial distinction between straightforward criticism and constructive criticism. Giving criticism that just focuses on the flaws does not provide the recipient with direction on how to improve.

Negative criticism, as a result, is less effective in achieving improved achievements.

Because the receiver is given information on what needs to change and how to do it, constructive criticism produces faster and better results than negative criticism.

A good leader will be able to motivate his or her team by providing constructive criticism.

Why Constructive Criticism is Good in the Workplace?

Most individuals are just as terrified to contribute as they are to receive criticism.

This aversion to offering or receiving feedback can lead to a perilous situation in which your company sets the bar too low and accepts mediocrity.

Steve Jobs compares offering and receiving constructive criticism to polishing a rock tumbler in The Lost Interview.

He explains how throwing unsightly pebbles into a tumbler and polishing them with water, grit, and friction may be a metaphor for creative teams having meaningful discussions to polish one other’s ideas.

Although constructive team feedback is important for organizations at all stages, new enterprises need to get it properly.

Because efficiency and processes have yet to be created, the early stages of a corporation are frequently unorganized.

If your team isn’t collaborating successfully, the results will most likely reflect, if not exaggerate, this dysfunction.

How Do You Deal with Constructive Criticism?

It’s part of the job description for a service director to deal with client criticism. However, hearing positive “upward” input – that is, comments from junior staff — can be beneficial to supervisors.

While it may seem contradictory, upward feedback can assist teams and departments build trust and rapport, as well as foster more open and honest settings.

So, how can you gracefully accept constructive criticism from coworkers?

The same guidelines apply here as they do when dealing with client criticism, which means restraining emotional reactions, refraining from being defensive, and actively listening and asking questions are the first steps.

Put yourself in their shoes if you’re afraid of receiving negative criticism from the ranks and file.

Consider how apprehensive they are about providing candid feedback to their boss. Consider how they’ll feel if you react badly.

You won’t create any rapport, and your relationship will most likely deteriorate.

You’ll recognize when your employees’ concerns and complaints are real if you listen carefully to what they have to say. You’ll have the opportunity to improve and grow as a leader in those situations, and that’s priceless.

How to Make Criticism Constructive

If you’re given the responsibility of providing someone feedback, you’re likely to get a negative answer.

Most people find it difficult to hear that they are underperforming or even failing in their roles, yet it is vital.

People who advance in their careers will consider the feedback and devise a strategy to improve.

This is why brainstorming solutions and developing a strategy for success might be advantageous.

Ensure that the goals fit the S.M.A.R.T criteria once the feedback has been communicated and the improvement plan has been hammered out.

These objectives are explicit, measurable, feasible, practical, and time-bound.

You’ll be able to balance negative criticism with praise if you like the person you’re criticizing.

It helps to develop trust that you’re aware of this person’s strengths and limitations, even if you’re only applauding a small part of their overall job performance.

When balancing praise with criticism, be cautious, as the praise may be viewed as fake and said to divert the situation’s unpleasantness.

How to Give Constructive Criticism

The first issue with criticism is that employers and employees often disagree about what constitutes helpful input.

According to leadership development consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, there is a gap between how managers and employees receive feedback.

More than half of the employees polled believe that when their bosses praise them, they are more effective.

Employers, on the other hand, believe that giving negative feedback makes them more productive (73 percent).

If managers are to be productive, they must provide a proper balance of negative and positive feedback.

Your team members will appreciate your negative criticism more over time if they know it is given with good intentions. To improve your delivery of constructive criticism, use these five strategies.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully
  2.  Know What Feedback Your Team Can Handle
  3.  Focus on Current Projects and Topics
  4.  End With Actionable Items
  5.  Ask For Feedback In Return

How to Receive Negative Feedback

As previously stated in this article, criticism thrown at you can be difficult to swallow. Receiving constructive criticism requires a great level of maturity, sensitivity, and confidence.

Making feedback a dialogue rather than a lecture is one of the most important aspects of getting it.

If the individual in charge of the meeting does all the talking, it may indicate apprehension about hearing comments humbly.

It’s preferable to talk about the issue and come up with a solution together.

Giving and receiving criticism has one major benefit: it increases situational self-awareness and empathy.

Effective communication is simple if you do just that: communicate. A meeting that consists entirely of one person speaking is a lecture, and no one enjoys being lectured to.

Most individuals who criticize you do it because they want to help you better, not to tear you down. To improve your ability to receive criticism, follow these steps:

  1. Create Channels to Hear Feedback
  2.  Ask Your Boss, Peers, and Employees for Complete Honesty
  3.  Turn Your Feedback Session Into a Discussion
  4.  Recognize That Both Parties Are Doing Their Best

What are Some Examples of Constructive Criticism?

The goal of constructive feedback is to provide information to an individual in a way that encourages them to improve or amend their behavior.

This is significant because it promotes personal and professional development.

Constructive feedback, for example, can:

  • Boost employee morale.
  •  Reduce the amount of ambiguity about expectations and current performance.
  •  Give the person receiving comments a fresh perspective and useful information.
  •  Influence a person’s behavior in a positive way

Examples of making Feedback Constructive

It’s critical to be able to tell the difference between constructive and negative feedback. Destructive feedback is a direct attack on the individual, pointing out flaws.

There is no practical advice or supportive feedback supplied in destructive feedback.

Here are some examples of negative feedback:

  • “You’re mistaken.”
  •  “That is not how things are done around here.”
  •  “You don’t have a clue what you’re doing.”


Many of us respond defensively and angrily in the heat of the moment, or even worse, attack the person providing feedback. But the truth is that we must move on.

We all recognize the benefits of constructive criticism—how else would we be able to detect our flaws?

We also know that it helps us retain relationships and achieve greater success in whatever we do.

So, how can you learn to take a step back from being on the defensive?

Use this six-step method the next time you receive constructive criticism from a manager or a colleague to handle the situation with sensitivity and grace.


  • – From Both Sides: How to Use Constructive Criticism in the Workplace
  • – Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ



Ajah Excel is a team growth and performance expert with over nine years of experience in blogging and personal development.
He leads a team of 36 crazy, restless innovators with an enviable work culture at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited – a fast-rising tech firm from the SouthEast.
Excel is the founder of and WriterGig.
He is also the co-organizer of TEDx Ikenegbu and convener of Social Media Fest.
He is a vibrant learner who yearns to share his knowledge to educate and inspire young Africans.
He has a B.Tech in Information Management Technology with certifications in growth hacking, effective communication, leadership, team, and personal development, to mention a few.
Ajah Anayochukwu Excel is a passionate public speaker, creative writer, and brand storyteller.

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