Criticize: 10 Things To Think Before You Do

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Criticize: 10 Things To Think Before You Do

Granted that it is very hard to listen to a feedback and someone criticizing you. Sometimes it makes you feel like pouncing on them and giving a piece of your mind. But truth is, it is equally hard to criticize someone, especially when you care for them. And if you care for them a lot, it is actually that harder.

soft skills, how to criticise someone, how to say someone they are wrong, self improvement, self help, criticising, things to think before criticising, communication skills
Criticize: 10 Things To Think Before You Do

Well, whether you care or not, nothing gives you or me the right to hurt someone just because we don’t find it right. Here are a few steps which can make the way you criticize a lot easier and a lot more tolerable if not acceptable.

1) Look at the BIG picture

I agree that what they might have done is wrong and it might not be what you expected either. But there is a lot of efforts that has gone behind doing something. Try to look at it from their perspective. They have done so much and if the first thing you say is – “This is not right, that could have been better” and so on.. Trust me, if it were me, I would rethink going the extra mile for your project the next time. Look at the big picture once and see how small or how big the mistake is. If it is catastrophic, then perhaps you may feel like flaring on them, but you know that you can’t, you really are better than that and you need to find a better way than shouting. And if it is a small mistake, well I guess you know you have to do then.

2) Look at what is right

It doesn’t take a genius to see what is wrong and start talking about it. But since we are not talking about people here, we need to consider a very important factor of criticism – THE OTHER PERSON. If you want to act without regard as to how they may feel, then go ahead, maybe you are right in pointing out what is exactly wrong and making them feel miserable about it. But it takes a sensitive one to know what is right as well. Try appreciating them for the right things than instantly attacking the mistakes. Not many people mind when you point out mistakes, but it has to be done the right way.

3) Play a role reversal

Imagine yourself in the receiving position and someone is telling you that you are wrong. How would you want them to tell you that you are wrong? Well some of you might say bring it on, but again I would question the efficacy of such an approach. But seriously, how would you want someone to tell you that you are wrong? Come to you in a high raised voice and shout at you in front of everyone? Or talking to you in person, in a low voice and trying to make a reasonable analysis of what you have done?

4) Don’t make it personal

The issue is about the issue and the issue alone. You, me or no one has the right to bring the past to it or your personal opinion to it. You may say that why it made you feel bad but you may never use words like – “You always do this” “You did a similar thing last time too”. Don’t bring in the family feud into this. It is about a simple issue and let that be about the simple issue, everything else can wait for another day over a drink!

5) Mind your language! 

Yeah! Mind your language, mind your voice, keep in mind the surroundings, the time and the way your criticism is delivered. Anyone can talk about a mistake with complete disregard to surroundings. But if you want to be a little more evolved and better respected, then you better do this. Pick your moment right, talk about the right things and then talk about the wrongs and all of it in a soothing voice, don’t let the emotions or anger get the better off you.

6) Focus on the order

Yeah something has gone wrong, but something has gone right too. The golden rule of any feedback is that you need to appreciate the right things before you pounce on the wrong ones. You may feel that it is a trick and everyone knows that this is the way it is going to be, it is still better than you attacking the mistake right away. I am not saying this because it feels like a nicer way and you have to butter the person up before putting him to test but I am saying this because it can be an honest way of an analysis for the situation and in the bigger picture, there will not be many situations where it is only wrong.

7) Don’t say it has to be this way or that way, try evoke a response. 

Instead of saying that you should have done this or that, try to find a way to evoke that answer from them. You can always tell them what the result of the action has been and ask them if they think there is a better way they could have done it. Tell them it is ok that something has been done that way and it has happened and it is ok. But now what is more important is what you do about it and how you want to handle. Don’t harp on the mistake for a long time, try and look at the solution cos that is the only thing that is going to get you out of the situation, not a postmortem analysis of the mistake.

8) Relate it to your personal mistakes

Instead of saying that the person should have known about this, try and relate to a time you did a mistake, don’t completely alienate them, it makes them closer to you. It makes them realize that it is not such a big deal and it doesn’t make you any smaller as a person. In fact it makes you bigger as a person cos you are developing that amount of trust with that person and making a personal connection

9) Don’t make a big deal out of it. 

The mistake was a mistake and that is it, end of the story. The only option you have right now is of fixing it. The more time you spend on feeling bad about the mistake, the worse you start feeling. Instead focus on what can be done right or how you can fix it. That is something which can set you free. The more you wallow in the mistake, the worse you start feeling bad about it.

10) Cheer up! 

Like I said, it is no big a deal. The bigger you look at it, the bigger it feels and the more you feel like lashing out. Make it small, don’t spend too many emotions on it. A mistake is a mistake and that is the end of it most times. You don’t get much by hurting the person who made that mistake. So cheer up, nothing much is lost you still have that person with you and you can figure a way out to solve the problem. The more balanced you behave, the better chance you have at both solving the problem and winning the person’s trust.


How do you tell someone they are wrong? What is the language you use to tell them that they have done a mistake and it is not acceptable. All of these with the standing premise that you are not supposed to hurt them!

Well, here are 7 steps to tell someone they are wrong without hurting them

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7 thoughts on “Criticize: 10 Things To Think Before You Do

  1. Good points. One critical point: try to criticize in private, preferably one-to-one. Of course, praise in public!

  2. Criticizing someone is quite easy, but if you consider the same task, I am suppose you might also face the same issues on which you are criticizing others.

    Nice post Vinay, I am really glad to see such posts on your blog. You have the real talent to make such posts 🙂

    1. Thank you Alok :). I am really happy to be bringing out such posts which can add value to people :). Looks like we are slowly inching to the niche area of the blog :).

      I agree, criticism is one of the toughest things, both to give and to receive.. But I guess there is no way around it, it will be a part no matter where we go. The best we can probably do about it is try and be as sensitive as possible about it 🙂

  3. Absolutely adored the article…keep inspiring like this….I am totally ok with constructive criticism but just demeaning someone for the sake of scoring a point or two …totally against it…empathy is at the core of this I guess.

    1. Thank you Chaitali. Happy that you liked the article :). It is an absolute delight to be writing these genre of posts :).

      I agree, if the point of the criticism is just to hurt someone, then it does not deserve any place at all, it is something I would scoff at right away.. But I guess it has become such an integral part of our lives that there doesn’t seem to be a way around it..

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