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7 Ways to Deliver Constructive Criticism

Choose words carefully

Kindness goes a long way. If the person you are offering criticism to feels you don’t even like them or support them, they are not likely to hear what you have to say. Be nice. That’s a good standard anytime, but becomes a strategic move when attempting to offer constructive criticism. Also, don’t criticize people or make the criticism personal. Criticism will almost always be rejected if the person receiving it feels they (or the team they lead) are being attacked. Talk less about the who and more about the what.

Have a vested interest

It’s hard to receive criticism as being constructive from people who really aren’t interested in the overall vision. For example, if you tell me you’d “never attend a church like the one I pastor in a million years,” I’m less likely to value your criticism about the music we sing. (And, that’s happened—more than once.) If it’s obvious you love the vision, you’ll be more welcomed to critique the methods by which people are trying to attain it.

Be humble enough to admit you may be wrong

You might be, right? Unless it’s a clearly spelled out biblical principle, then it is subject to interpretation. Yours might be right or it might be wrong. The willingness to admit this fact will go a long way toward your criticism being considered and valued.

Take the personal preference test

Check your heart for why you are sharing the criticism in the first place. Before you offer the criticism, ask yourself if you are really offering this criticism for the good of everyone or if this is simply a personal preference. It’s OK either way, but be honest enough with yourself and others to admit it. In fact, if you do this test appropriately, some of the criticism you think you need to offer you may decide you don’t need to offer after all. The less you are seen as offering criticism that only benefits you, the better what you do offer will be received as constructive criticism.

Do you want constructive criticism to be heard? These are simply some suggestions to hopefully help.

I’ve written numerous posts on criticism. Two of the more popular are 5 Right Ways to Respond to Criticism and 5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.