Criticism could be a helpful tool or a destructive tool; it all depends on how well you package your criticism. If your intension is to be helpful, here are some simple tips to help you package your intension so that the outcome is what you are hoping for. If your intension is to destroy the one you are criticizing, then do what you do best, no help from me. I’m all about motivation and not demotivation.
This technique of criticism is called The Criticism Sandwich and it is very productive.
1) First, Start with Something Good
Rather than listing the reasons the leader’s plan is falling apart, start with something affirmative. “I really like the approach here because it does X, Y, Z.”
2) Second, Add the Criticism
After you’ve put a good amount of effort into saying something positive, mention the issues that need to be addressed.
3) Third, Add a Positive Closer
Finally, once you’ve finished the critical comments, top everything off with a positive ending: “But again, I really think this is off to a good start, it just needs a little sharpening.”
“It’s amazing what a little positive at the beginning and end can do. Compared to being critical, a criticism sandwich puts people at ease and makes them willing to listen. People react against things they don’t want to hear. They shut down and think about all the reasons why what you are saying isn’t right. They stop listening and start arguing.” Jonah Berger.
By starting positive, when giving a criticism, you circumvent the defensive reaction. You show people that you’re their friend, not an enemy, and they’re more primed to listen to what you have to say.
A criticism sandwich also makes the person leveling the criticism look better. Rather than seeming like a Negative Joe Blow, they seem more like a Constructive Flomo, someone who wants to help.
Making changes can be difficult and are often not welcome by many. Help to make the process more comfortable and accepting by the individual you are addressing. Be sensitive to their feelings during your approach.
Good luck with your criticism, hope you get the message across and it is fruitful.
Source: Jonah Berger Wharton Professor and Author of NYT Bestseller, Contagious: Why Things Catch On