Both taking and receiving criticism are some of the most difficult things to do, especially at work. However, creating a workplace culture around accountability has been proven to boost morale and it’s one of the top qualities employees like to see in an organization.

Negative feedback is an inevitable part of the workplace, and it’s something that even the best employees need from time to time. No one is perfect, and constructive critiques help employees and their managers grow personally and professionally.

How to Give Constructive Criticism

Giving negative feedback can sometimes be more difficult than taking it. Criticism needs to be delivered very carefully. If an employee feels put down or like they’re not valued by their supervisor, it could stress them out and cause them to perform even worse. Here are three tips every employee or employee should know before they give criticism:

1. Be Specific and Offer Solutions

When giving criticism, make sure it’s as specific as possible. Point to specific moments or projects where the employee did something incorrectly or didn’t quite deliver on expectations.

For example, if an employee is consistently turning in reports with spelling errors, don’t scold them for simply being “lazy.” Point to a few reports where errors weren’t caught, and let them know how they can try to fix the problem.

2. Make it a Conversation

Any constructive conversation isn’t one-way. Both parties need to be active participants in order to get the most out of the talk. So make sure the employee is engaged the entire time by asking questions and actively listening, to get to the root of the problem.

Listen to their feedback intently and try to customize the solution to their needs at the time. Simple questions like “Can you tell me more about what happened?”  show that managers aren’t just there to yell at them, and they care about finding a solution that works.

3. Don’t Make It Personal

When criticizing an employee, always make it clear that there’s something at work that needs to be changed but that it doesn’t make them a bad person. Always think twice before speaking and think, “would I be hurt if someone spoke to me this way?” The golden rule of treating other’s the way you want to be treated is true in every aspect of work life, especially when critiquing someone.

How to Take Criticism Respectfully

Everyone faces criticism at work at some point or another. Even though it happens often, it’s not always easy to hear. However, there are plenty of ways to take accountability for mistakes made and turn a critique into something positive. Here are three things an employee or employer should do when receiving criticism:

1. Hold Back Your Initial Reaction

It’s human nature to want to react poorly to critiques. This is true even if it’s from a boss an employee respects and the criticism is in a constructive manner. The key to professionally taking feedback is to never get defensive.

When someone receives negative feedback, it’s important that they take a step back, take a deep breath and don’t react right away. Employees need to know that criticism shouldn’t be perceived as a personal attack.

2. Ask Questions

Criticism is a learning opportunity, and it’s crucial that employees always ask questions to truly grow from the experience. Ask whoever is giving feedback specific examples of what went wrong and what they didn’t like. If an employee doesn’t have specific ideas on how they improve their performance, nothing is going to change.

3. Show Appreciation

Always say thank you to the supervisor or manager who’s giving the feedback, even if they don’t do their job and deliver it in the right way.

Take the high road and show gratitude and let the person know that the feedback was taken to heart and that positive change will be made in the future. It’s not always easy to do this, but a little gratitude in the office goes and long way and it will build a reputation that they employee takes negative comments with grace.

Taking Accountability and showing Appreciation in the office are both a part of giving or receiving criticism, and that’s why they’re two of the foundational workplace skills that Bring Your ‘A’ Gameis built on. Click here to learn more about what our curriculum can do to build soft skills in the workforce.