Making Criticism Constructive for You!

Have you ever noticed that someone can suggest you do something differently and you are grateful for the suggestion but then someone else can make a suggestion and you feel discouraged or want to quit?

Suggestions can feel like criticism.  And even if it’s termed constructive sometimes it just doesn’t feel very constructive.

The delivery style, intent and energy behind the words in which a “constructive criticism” is delivered makes all the difference in how it’s received. 

Criticism means “a critical comment or judgment; the practice of analyzing, interpreting or evaluating.”  (The American Heritage Dictionary)

So is the problem in the whole concept of “constructive criticism?” Can it ever really feel constructive, or do people too often use it as an excuse to judge someone?

We all need to get information that will have us be more effective in our jobs and lives.

We’ve all had bosses who were judgmental or just lousy communicators.  You may have one now.  Your previous or current boss may lack the techniques to be a good communicator or they may not care and/or don’t want to invest the time in learning to be an effective communicator.  But most bosses do want to be effective.

Sometimes bosses need to just tell you to do something differently and move on to the next task.  Maybe you’re on a tight deadline and everyone is stressed.  When you’re on a deadline, take the bosses information and run with it.  Don’t worry about the style or intent.

But when you’re in your day-to-day work environment and you get feedback that feels more judgmental than constructive, I want you to speak up and do your best to teach the person how to effectively communicate to you.

I know in this economy that many people are afraid to speak up to their boss.  But if you use this powerful technique, they can’t fire you for speaking up.  And you’ll have a chance to be in a better work environment.

I’ll share how to say it as well as what to say.  This brilliant technique has been around for years and is highly effective – with bosses, spouses, friends, parents and siblings.

The Technique

Here’s how the technique goes:

“When you…”

“I feel…”

“What I’d like instead is…”

“Will you…?”

You’re not attacking the other person or making them wrong. You are talking about how you feel when they do or say something and asking them to do it differently.

Let me give you some examples of how this would sound:

“When you give me feedback in a condescending tone, I feel unappreciated for all my hard work.  What I’d like instead is for you to talk to me in a respectful manner. Will you do that?”

“When you yell at me when you want me to do something, I feel like I’m not being treated as a professional.  What I’d like instead is for you to ask me to do something in a calm manner. Will you do that?”

“When you are going over my performance review I feel you move through it too quickly and don’t give me a lot of specific information.  Your feedback is very important to me, but your pace leaves me feeling confused and that my efforts aren’t valued. What I’d like instead is for you to slow down and let me ask questions so I can learn specifically what you want me to do better.  Will you do that?”

Be Positive, Optimistic, Clear, Kind and Firm

Remember, the objective of this technique is to give the other person the information they need to communicate more effectively with you.  For this to work you have to be positive and optimistic.  Any negativity on your part will block your chance of success. 

You need to be clear, as well as kind but firm.  And most importantly, get their agreement.  If you don’t get their agreement then next time you’ll have to do this exercise all over again. If you do get their agreement, when they revert to their old behavior – and they will – just remind them of what they agreed to do.

This technique works.  Practice it on someone safe and easy the first couple of times.  When you’re feeling stronger and more comfortable, try it on your boss.

Be aware of your tone and energy.  Don’t leave out the “kind” of “kind but firm.”  If you’re too strong they might feel attacked or disrespected.  That’s not your intention.  You want to communicate effectively for the sake of your productivity.  And remember – everything takes practice.

Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to at first.  Cut yourself some slack and keep working on it.  You’ll get it.  One day you’ll use this technique in a clear, kind and firm way and the person will appreciate your communication and style. They’ll get it, they’ll get you, and they’ll change or try to do their best.   Then cut them some slack by realizing it takes practice on their part too.

You can do it! I know you can! 

Imagine the possibilities when you learn to make criticism constructive for you!

© Carol Chanel

Q & A

One of my clients called the other day and asked me for some steps to keep her from getting stuck in Yuma. Since she’s been working with me for a while she had the framework that I outlined in the main article. I wanted you all to have the framework so you could put the steps to work in your life.

Happy Dreaming, Happy Achieving


If you want more information about the subject matter in the main article there are two brilliant books and a CD that are insightful and inspiring.

“The Power of Intention” by Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Ask and It’s Given” by Abraham-Hicks

Abraham-Hicks Kansas City 9/14/05 CD – single CD, about $15.
Available on their website:
Or you can call them to order it at 1-830-755-2299

These books and CD’s are uplifting, inspiring and powerful and provide the tools you’ll need to have a life of happiness, love, fulfillment and joy.

Keep believing, allowing and receiving!

Carol's Services

I teach people to overcome the obstacles that keep them stuck yet longing for romantic relationships, more self-confidence and inspiration to accomplish their dreams.

We sometimes forget what it feels like to live from our hearts and souls. We forget the thrill of taking the brakes off and flying. Life is dull if we just live from our minds.

Are you - or someone you know - settling, for less than exciting, either in relationships or a career?

You can visit my website at:

You'll find other articles there and more in-depth information about both my services and me.

Carol Chanel
Certified Life Coach 

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