Giving criticism can be just as, if not even more stressful than receiving it. Studies have shown that people who are about to offer criticism are often concerned that they or the other person may get angry at them and that they will not know how to manage that other person’s anger.
According to the dictionary the definition of criticism is to openly find fault with. Going by that meaning its no wonder that criticism is often causes anger. Given that most of us haven’t received any training in how to offer criticism its really not all that surprising that it’s the cause of so much anger. Because of this, training in criticism techniques should be an important part of any anger management course.

One way to alleviate all this stress and anger is to redefine criticism and change the way its provided. Surprisingly, a number of research studies have shown that people actually want to know what they do well, what they need to improve, and what others believe their strengths and weaknesses are. Most people want to do a good job or be a good spouse or friend and are oftentimes eager to improve. So the trick to providing criticism is to redefine it as something that emphasizes teaching rather than finding fault and running someone down.

In his outstanding book, “Criticism Management: How to More Effectively Give, Receive, and Seek Criticism in Our Lives” Randy Garner outlines an alternate definition of criticism that he calls “G.R.I.P.E.” which emphasizes criticism as an opportunity to provide useful information which helps another Grow, Recover, Improve, Prosper and Excel (G.R.I.P.E.).

What Are the Ingredients for Effective Criticism?

Garner suggests that constructive criticism is offered with the goal of helping the recipient to G.R.I.P.E. The aim is neither to belittle the person you are criticizing nor to inflate your ego; instead it is offered in a spirit of assistance. Constructive criticism is: ~ The aim of constructive criticism is not to put the other person down or to boost your ego. The goal is to help the person G.R.I.P.E. Constructive criticism has three key elements:}

1) Problem-focused, not personal
2) Specific, not vague
3) Descriptive, rather than judgmental or blaming

What makes for bad criticism?

The aim of destructive criticism is to make someone look awful, manipulate someone for personal gain, or to make the person offer the criticism look like a rose in comparison. It can be offered to show whose “in charge” or to make the other person feel bad.

Destructive criticism is:

1) Often personally focused
2) Overly general or vague
3) Focused on judgment and blame
4) Offered without the best interests of the recipient in mind

3 Effective Criticism Techniques

1) “I Guess No One Explained to You” Method

With this technique criticism is intentionally worded to act as if the person does not know the right way to do something through no fault of their own. For example, you might start out by saying something like “You may not know this, however, we need to have … “ or “You may not be aware , of this, however all of these need to be approved before they are sent out.” This approach keeps the other person from feeling defensive which makes it much less likely they will become angry.

2) The “Demonstration” Method

Psychological research has demonstrated that people learn the fastest and show the most improvement by having someone model the right way to do something for them. This method not only shows that you are willing to help out, but that you are a friend and a mentor. You become their coach. This is one of the most powerful techniques taught in an anger management class.

3) The “Sandwich” Method

You probably know this technique by another name. This involves starting out by saying something positive about the person. Even if they are totally screwing up you might be able to praise their effort and say something like “I totally see you out there working hard and trying your best”. Then in the middle you slip in what you are unhappy about or what the person is doing wrong. Then you top it off by telling them how to improve and either using the demonstration technique to make sure they have it down or by simply praising them and saying that you have faith that they can do this. You start and finish on high notes, which cushioning the criticism (aka “poop”) in the middle.

You will find it much less stressful and more effective if you use these techniques to provide feedback.

Author's Bio: 

To learn more about the relationship between mental health and anger management problems are and how please visit

Dr. Joe James is a psychologist who has specialized in anger management for over fifteen years. He is the developer of several internet based anger management classes.