Press & Media

The Art of Tact: How to Criticise Your Coworker without Being Offensive

Upon hearing the word criticism, what sense or feeling that comes into your head? Chances are, most people will identify criticism with negative connotations rather than positive ones. It is certainly not without reason, given that criticism is the kind of feedback often expressed to fix and improve something or someone’s errors for being unable to meet the expectations.

Be it in a personal or professional relationship, giving and sharing criticism to each other is an integral effort towards achieving better improvement. Unfortunately, while everyone realises the importance of criticisms to provide feedbacks on particular actions or thoughts, there are good chances that criticising a person can be daunting task to do.

Some people can be very sensitive and reactive when they are told that they are wrong, while some others can be very calm and open to any criticism or even complaints directed them. No wonder, criticising someone can be an awkward and uncomfortable experience because we never know how they will respond to our feedbacks.

Then the question remains: what is meant by constructive criticism? How can you ensure that your feedback is acceptable and brings actual impact to the intended person? And most importantly, how can you criticise someone without being a jerk and offends them?

If you are looking for the best way to express your opinions to your office colleagues without imposing your views and ruining the relationship, below we share some tactful ways to criticise your coworkers:

1. Watch your tone of voice

Words are powerful, it defines whether you will make or break your true intentions. That being said, it is crucial for you to be careful in how you deliver the criticism and express your thoughts. Watch the tone of your voice when speaking, as you need to avoid a tone which signifies anger, sarcasm, or hostility. If you want to be heard, you should keep a polite and natural tone, such that the person criticised will not react negatively.

2. Smile and be kind

People often have a hard time finding that they are making mistakes, let alone receiving criticism from the others. Therefore, you should be kind and gentle when voicing your opinions. First of all, you need to place yourself in their shoes and ask how you would react when getting such criticisms. To help you create a good and positive vibe, you should keep on friendly smile on your face during the conversation.

3. Straight to the point and be specific

Avoid beating around the bush and get straight to the point. When giving a criticism, it is important not to make ambiguous remarks as this will only confuse or even make the situation worse. Find the most polite way to deliver more direct and specific suggestion, such that they can learn from it right away. More importantly, you should be as honest as possible without crossing the line.

4. Maintain your objectivity

If there is anything, constructive criticism is built on objectivity. While you might have certain sentiments or personal issues with the person, you should keep it professional by maintaining your neutrality on the matter in hand.

5. Criticise the situation, not the person

When giving any feedbacks, you should never make it personal. Instead of looking at the person’s character, you should focus on the situation and how it could be better. Do not talk about their attitudes, but rather their behaviour that needs some improvement to meet performance standard in the office.

6. Give solution and direction

Criticism without solution is worthless. Do not leave them in the dark and help your colleagues to make improvement by providing concrete guide and suggestion. Make the conversation a two-way street, meaning that besides criticising them, you should let them know that you are open to any criticism, too.

Next read: Gel the Team Together: 5 Tips to Create Collaborative Culture

Next read: Tips to Answer Interview Question: “What is Your Biggest Weakness?”