Rising Strong: giving constructive feedback

[Disclaimer: this is not really a Rising Strong post, but it goes along with the idea of helping each other live wholeheartedly.]

Creative Commons "Criticism" by Celestine Chua is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “Criticism” by Celestine Chua is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

There is a very important skill that most of us could stand to fine-tune. Anyone can offer criticism, but constructive criticism is a wholly different animal. And we all need to hear this kind of helpful feedback since it’s tough to step outside ourselves and understand how our words and actions affect others.

Whether you want to share your thoughts on the preacher’s sermon, your teenage daughter’s outfit, or the school board’s re-zoning plan, here are some questions to ask yourself before giving voice to your perspective:

  • Is this a real issue or a personal preference? Real issues need airtime. Personal preferences usually don’t.
  • Is the issue really the issue? Am I really upset about something else? If so, what?
  • What is my intent/goal? What do I – honestly – hope to accomplish by speaking up?
  • What is my relationship with the criticism recipient? Am I the right person to bring this matter up, or would it be more effective coming from someone else who feels the same way?
  • How best can the recipient hear my message? How can I keep the conversation going instead of putting the hearer on defense?
  • What am I willing to do to help the recipient make change or to support the recipient in change? If the issue is important enough to raise, it is important enough to invest in the follow through.

May we all be willing to refine our criticism-offering abilities, and may we have the courage to use them. Compassionate honesty breeds connection.


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