On Constructive Criticism-1

How to Give Constructive Criticism

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

It can sometimes be difficult to tell someone that what he or she is doing is not quite right. Here’s a simple method for criticizing people nicely.


  1. Use the “sandwich technique”. When you use the sandwich technique, you sandwich one bad point between two good points. Start off with a good characteristic of the person, or special gift they have. Then, put in the “but”. Then always end it with another good point. Example: “You are so good at making those grilled cheese sandwiches. They taste so good. But I really wish that you would clean up the kitchen area after you do it. It would help me out a lot. You are so good about helping me out around the house.: Variations include:
    • What I liked most was… One way you could improve this is… One of your greatest strengths is…
    • The first thing I observed was that you did _____ right. Well done. Now if we can tweak this one thing (_______) it’ll be even better. There, you got it. You did great.
    • One really good thing about you is… I would really appreciate it if, instead of doing __________, that you do ______. That would make me very happy. By the way, in case I haven’t mentioned it lately, I just want to say that one thing I really admire about you is…
    • You make a valid point. One thing I like about how you think is…Let me counter your argument by saying… Like I said, you made a good point. One thing that always impresses me about you is…


  • The purpose of using this technique is:
    • To relax the other person and help create a situation or a state-of-mind where they will be more open to receiving the criticism or advice.
    • To reduce the possibility that the other person will get angry with you for pointing out their faults.
    • To let the other person know that you are “on their side”. Rather than being antagonistic, you are showing that you recognize their good points, too.
    • By closing with a positive statement, you remind the person of their strengths, their worth and their value. They are more likely to be motivated to accept the negative if they are reminded that they are “not all bad”.
  • This formula has typically been used in evaluation situations (employee evaluations, for example.) It can also be used, with variations, in any number of other situations. It can often “smooth out” interactions of all kinds.
  • Timing is everything. Do it when the person is in a good mood. Make sure they are not overtired when you bring up the topic.


  • Pick your battles. Decide if it is really worth criticizing the person. If not, don’t. How important is it really?
  • Watch your tone and your expression. If you sound and appear holier-than-thou, criticism will not be well received.
  • Each of these examples follows the positive-negative-positive formula. Critics of this formula suggest that it is inefficient, wastes time and is condescending. Creating a situation in which the other person is open to your feedback is never a waste of time. If you do not, you are opening the door to conflict, misunderstandings and anger. The key is to be honest and sincere every step of the way. If you lie or exaggerate, the other person will likely sense this and you will lose credibility and respect (not to mention that your advice will be completely ignored.) Used correctly, this technique can smooth communications and enhance understanding in the boardroom, the bedroom, the classroom, sitting at the kitchen table, or just about anywhere else you can think of.

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Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Give Constructive Criticism. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


4 thoughts on “On Constructive Criticism-1

  1. I have heard these suggestions before (our pastor used them in a sermon once) and I think they are great. While criticism is hard no matter what, it is nice that we can find ways to deliver without being ugly and can show love and concern.

  2. You are so welcome Tiffany!

    You are right Melanie, sometimes, criticism must be given; but it can be done in a way that will not bring down the recipient’s self esteem.

    Well, I’m working on a report on giving and handling criticism. I really appreciate all your comments. Thanks a lot.

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