Keep a close eye on how you give critique.Keep a close eye on how you give a critique.

Let’s talk about critiques. It’s real simple.  When you tell someone what you don’t like about what they’re doing, try rethinking it as telling them how they can improve.  That means telling them why what they are doing is not working and offer a means of improvement.  So, if you say, “That’s horrible!”, it doesn’t really tell the receiver  anything.  It doesn’t give them any food for thought beyond, “What a douche.” or “WTF?” So, when you tell someone something isn’t working, make sure to tell them why it doesn’t.

If you are the receiver of criticism, be open to the critique .  That means listen. Actively listen.  Look it up.  Paraphrase back to the person what they just said before responding.  That gives you time to process and they feel heard.  You don’t have to agree with what they say, but they will respect you more for having listened.  I suggest asking why, as well.  Find out what they mean and where they’re coming from.

“…we have to communicate with them in such a way that they feel inspired and encouraged.” Adrian Shaughnessy How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul

Pay attention to how balanced your critique is.  If all you point out to someone is the negative, such as… “Fix this… fix this…. not that… this is wrong….. you can better…”  Not only is that not really telling anyone anything useful, it’s a lot of negative reinforcement that mushes down people’s self-esteem and team’s morales.  You have to make sure you balance the negative critiques with positive ones.  Letting people know something they are doing right and why it is right is extremely important. Basketball coach, Rick Pitino, recommends doing this in front of their teammates.  It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it can be in passing.  But it makes a mark on everyone.  Don’t forget to let the whole team know what they’re doing right, too.

So tell me, would you rather have a bunch of people working for you, or would you rather have a bunch of people working with you towards a mutual goal.  Keep an eye on balancing your critiques.  It will build trust and respect with your team.  You have practice and maintain it.  And if you haven’t been doing this, start now.  Give it a couple of months, notice the changes and let me what you think.