Published in


The Art of Criticism

photographer Tim Gouw
  1. Create a feedback-friendly atmosphere. 🤝
    No matter what your position is, you can ask for feedback for yourself. Others around you are more likely to open up, drop their guard, and do the same. Next time you lead a meeting or give a presentation, ask a colleague to reflect on a few specifics.
  2. Make sure what you are about to criticise can be improved in the first place. In other words, no point in asking for a change in something that is not in control of the other person.
  3. Make sure that the other person understands your point of view before trying to ask them to change!
  4. Use the sandwich technique! 🥪 🌯
    Wrap the issue you want to discuss between a couple of good feedbacks so your teammate doesn’t feel they are being cornered. People get defensive when they feel they are cornered.
  5. Always find the action that is causing the issue and criticise the action, not the person.
  6. When working in a software development team, you need to always approach issues from the team point of view! Use what is called “WE” language to emphasise that you as the team are willing to work and improve the situation.
  7. Avoid sarcasm! Avoid sarcasm! Avoid sarcasm! Also, keep your emotions out of the conversation!
  8. Don’t use a parenting tone! (Unless you are working with 5-year-old developers!) 👶 🍼
    You might be a mom/dad but your teammates are not kids! (Eg: asking questions like this one with a parenting tone: “Alex! What do we do when the task’s estimate changes?!”)
  9. Avoid impulsive decisions for criticising someone. Think thoroughly and carefully before saying anything. You may not be able to undo what you say and this will cost you in terms of team relationships.
  10. Choose a proper time and place! ⏰
    Remember you are about to tell someone there is an issue with what/how they do their job so you don’t want to add to that the embarrassment of being in front of everyone. You may even ask your colleague what is a good time to give them some feedback.
    This way they will not be caught off-guard and know what is coming.
  11. Watch your body language and tone of voice! 📣
    Try to be friendly and approachable. For example, if you are sitting across the table from your colleague and hitting your hand on the table whilst talking loudly, you might be demonstrating an aggressive body language. (CHOPPING MOVEMENTS 🤺)
CHOPPING MOVEMENTS (Image from 13 Revealing Body Language Hand Gestures article)



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

Web & mobile developer, @Auth0Ambassador. Follow me for content on JavaScript, Angular, React, Ionic & Capacitor, Progressive web apps & UI/UX.