Constructive criticism

You have a right to request a change in someone’s behaviour if it hurts, irritates or upsets you in some way. Simply not mentioning it will not make your feelings disappear. Resentment pushed underground can easily undermine a relationship. Constructive criticism allows you to value yourself and the other person.


  1. Take the initiative and choose your time and place.
  2. Describe the behaviour you see in the other person rather than labelling the person with such epithets as “You’re a nuisance”, “You’re so boring” or “You’re selfish”.
  3. Express your feelings and how you are affected by the other person’s behaviour, for example “I feel angry/ignored/humiliated when you …. “
  4. Ask for a specific change. If you just make a general complaint without suggesting an alternative, you don’t help the other person to know what you would prefer. As you need to be specific – vague hints will not do.
  5. Specify both the positive consequence if the person meets your request for change and possible negative consequences should your request be ignored. This involves practice in setting your own limits.
  6. Remember, an assertive interaction is equal. You may wish to invite the other person to offer you a criticism.
  7. Aim to end on a positive note. If appropriate, add a positive statement of your feelings towards the other person.

Giving direct, unoppressive feedback to others about-their behaviour can be both loving and helpful. It shows you value the other person and your relationship with them. Remember to give specific, direct feedback which is positive as well when it is appropriate. Skills in both directions are equally important.

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