8 Tips for making your critiques more acceptable


Every designer has probably encountered a situation like this:

Hovering art directors

This post is for everyone, but it’s especially dedicated to you, hovering art directors 😉

Why do we critique?

Critiques are essential for the development of any project. In design, for example, critiques are made among designers and between people, about the works being displayed. It’s a very positive act, where those who critique want something about that work or even that person to be better. But critiques have a bad reputation, often being taken to a personal level, eventually hurting the ego of those who receive them.

How to critique?

To solve the injustice of the ego being so fragile, it requires not only patience and education but also knowing how to cushion a critique so that it lands well on whoever will interpret it and act accordingly. I’ve been synthesizing the characteristics of a well-applied critique for a while, so I’ll list them here. This will serve both your professional and personal life, as critiques are part of every human relationship.

  1. Unassumingly, make the person understand that you’re saying this because you care.
    • WRONG: “I think you should do this.”
    • RIGHT: “I think if you do this, it will improve this and that, because of this, that, and the other thing.”
  2. Never criticize publicly. Those who have nothing to do with the issue in question shouldn’t be involved, unless that person can also help solve it.
  3. Precede your critique with a compliment, and be open to the person’s perspective.
    • WRONG: “Do this, it’ll be better”
    • RIGHT: “This is very good, and will work perfectly for x. Perhaps a small adjustment here would make it even better, what do you think?”
  4. Criticize the act or the object, instead of the person.
    • WRONG: “I didn’t like what you did”
    • RIGHT: “I understand your intention, but I think it didn’t work out so well because of this, that, and the other thing.”
  5. Never imply that the person did it on purpose.
  6. Share the responsibility. It’s the two of you together against this problem, not you against the person doing it.
    • WRONG: “You should do this to improve that thing.”
    • RIGHT: “I think if we do it this way, it will improve that thing.”
  7. Accompany your critique with a solution. If it’s not a very serious problem and you don’t have a solution, wait to mention it when you have one. If you don’t have a solution, and think the problem deserves attention, point it out and share with others who may be involved in solving it.
  8. If applicable, make the person understand that they are not the only one who makes this kind of mistake.

Now, if one day you receive a poorly formulated critique, don’t feel bad. You will have an argument to critique the person’s critique, and then you can direct them to this post 😀


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