How to criticise someone’s work

I had a thing the other day where someone was so gleeful about how much she disliked my work that I imagined her rolling up her sleeves to dive in, I imagined she was going to take the skin off my arms – and I knew the piece would be improved for it. I was ready to bleed to make that piece better.

And unfortunately that didn’t happen. Most of her comments were clever and useful, but none were worth the glee. Most peculiar. Very disappointing. Quite fascinating.

I was happy with the glee if it got me the blood but there are ways to avoid both and Brain Pickings has featured one good ‘un. According to the Brain Pickings site, philosopher Daniel Dennett, says:

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently – Maria Popova, Brain Pickings (28 March 2014)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image