Criticism Vs. Feedback: What's the Difference?

As an employee, you’ve probably gotten your fair share of comments from colleagues and managers. Some of those comments were harsher than others, and it likely impacted the way you work. Today we are sharing the difference between criticism and feedback, so you can uplift your team, even when you need them to improve.

What Is Criticism?

Criticism means something different to everyone, but the large majority of people agree that criticism feels negative. Criticism often deflates those who receive it, making it hard for them to focus on what they could be doing better.

Should You Use Criticism At Work?

So, you might be wondering, should you use criticism at work? Well, the answer is no. Criticism won’t get you far at work. If you have a problem or need someone to do something differently, you need to adjust your approach.

Criticism is often tuned out. If you are a manager or a colleague, criticizing your co-workers won’t get you very far. You don’t need to approach topics with kid gloves, but you need to provide valuable feedback.

What About Constructive Criticism?

You may have heard about constructive criticism when it comes to sharing your thoughts with employees and colleagues. While constructive criticism can work, it can also still feel negative to those who hear those words. Instead, you might want to use a term like constructive feedback that makes those around you feel at ease.

What Is Feedback?

Merriam-Webster defines feedback as, “the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source.”

Feedback allows you to share what you’re thinking in a way that helps the recipient. When you give feedback, people are less likely to be on alert. You’re able to make a better connection with those you need to communicate with when giving feedback.

How To Provide Excellent Feedback At Work

Feedback is an excellent way to communicate your feelings with people at work. Most of us aren’t used to providing valuable feedback, though. Here are some tips for giving feedback to your colleagues.

Take time to craft your feedback.

If you were hurt by something, don’t act out of spite. Take time to sit with your thoughts and gather helpful feedback. Pausing to collect your thoughts isn’t easy, but it will help you have a useful conversation with the colleague you have an issue with.

Share your feedback in a way that’s most clear for you and the recipient.

You probably have a ton of examples of text conversations that got misread. Share your message in a way that’s clear for the recipient. This may mean that you need to write out a long letter or have a conversation face-to-face (or over Zoom.)

Keep conversations private, if possible.

No one likes feeling ganged up on. Instead, you should keep constructive feedback private. Set up a one-on-one meeting with the person you want to provide feedback to.

Be specific.

Specificity is the key to changing behaviors. If you aren’t specific, your employees can’t improve. Share the exact details of what you witnessed that prompted this feedback. People aren’t always aware of their behaviors. You’ll need to share your feedback in a way that they can digest.

When you notice something positive, say something.

You don’t want to be known as a colleague who only shares constructive feedback. Often your colleagues do phenomenal stuff, so don’t be afraid to be open with praise!

Sharing feedback is a fantastic way to uplevel your team. We could all be doing a better job, and feedback is the key to unlocking that potential. Don’t be afraid to share information with your team to help them grow and prosper at your company.

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