Constructive criticism gets a bad rap for being daunting, stressful and slightly cringe-worthy — and that’s because it often feels that way in the moment. It’s only natural to take offense when we’re told that we need to improve, and when it comes to giving feedback, it’s usually not done at the right time or in the right way.
“Feedback is critically important in the workplace,” Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., a leadership and organizational psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College, tells Thrive. “We can’t improve without feedback, and that’s why it should be an ongoing process.” Riggio says we need to reframe how we see criticism at work — and by making feedback a core part of our company’s culture, we can all become more comfortable with speaking up in a way that’s both direct, and constructive. (At Thrive, employees are empowered to give honest feedback regularly, as part of the company’s cultural value of compassionate directness.) “There should be an ongoing ‘performance management’ model,” Riggio explains, “Which includes providing feedback and assistance on a day-to-day basis.”
Riggio adds that it can be difficult to strike the right balance between being compassionate and direct — but if we start thinking about criticism more mindfully, the conversation can be both helpful and constructive.
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