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How To Give Constructive Criticism

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The Internet has brainwashed us into believing that we can grow old but don’t have to grow up – but you know you have to, eventually; the bills don’t pay themselves. When dealing in the freelancing world, we all love working with grown-ups; people who we can depend on to deliver what we need.

Plus, no one loves working with a person who relays communication via tantrums and shouts. And of course, no one likes their work to be criticized, unfairly.

As much as everyone has an opinion and loves to give it, not everyone can take another man’s opinion. The advice strewn about everywhere has always been along the lines of "criticism will help you grow, if you let it" but rarely do people advise us on how to give criticism that is truly constructive – the kind that actually helps the receiver.

What is Constructive Criticism?

Constructive Criticism is hard work. It is the responsible form of criticizing someone’s work. To deliver constructive feedback, you need to have respect for the person on the other end, play fair, do your homework, and help them get better.

It is different from just purely hating something because it didn’t work for you. That form of criticism is almost always as easy to do as it is as easy to hate.

Many people criticize just to let off steam, to get a point across in the most agitated form possible, or to flaunt superiority. One very common example is the customer’s complaint. They come in upset, scream into the phone, sometimes to someone who is not even responsible for their outburst.

This may work in this scenario but not when you are the workplace. If you need to demand respect, that usually means you don’t know how to earn it.

Is criticism what they need?

Any form of criticism stems from the decision-maker’s dissatisfaction of a job done or delivered. It could be that it’s not up to an expected level of quality, or there are a few missing essentials. In any case, it doesn’t achieve a required objective or a set of objectives, which is why it needs to be rectified.

But before jumping in to criticize someone’s work, you have to play fair, and give them the benefit of the doubt. To be able to give constructive criticism, you have to first respect and acknowledge the fact that the receiver knows what he or she is doing, and that he had ample time to deliver satisfactory results.

Getting The Right Person For The Job

For the former, if you find that the person-in-charge is not suited for the job at hand, there is no need for criticism – there is a need to redelegate the task, or find someone else who is more suitable.

Suppose you do have the right man for the job, but his work isn’t up to par. Take into account if he had enough time, the right resources, all the up-to-date information required for him to carry out his task well.

If not, it’s not criticism that you should give, it’s the resources he needs to further improve the job at hand. Remember that sometimes you need to ask them point blank in order to get to the root of the problem, and this helps you understand the situation better.

How To Give Constructive Criticism

So you’re sure the person-in-charge is at fault, which is why you’re still reading this. There is no avoiding the dreaded "talk". But first, here’s what you need to prepare:

1. Identify the problem

Yes, constructive criticism is hard work, and part of it involves identifying the problem. No one likes being told that what they’re doing is wrong, without being given the specifics of what the hell is wrong. Adopting the "Because I said so," attitude is not only child-like, it also shows how little you think of other people’s time.

If you find that the issue is with the person’s carelessness, or them focusing on a wrong area or aspect, or a terrible misunderstanding of the specifications, tell it like it is. Get the person on the same page before proceeding to what you think is a proper solution.

2. Provide a solution

Yes, you also need to provide a solution. If blue is not the color you want, identify what is, and why. Don’t give people that "reddish blue but not purple" nonsense. Unless a specific color has been specified in the client’s brief, a web design Singaporeer has the freedom to pick a suitable color for your web design Singapore.

If you don’t like it – which is totally fine, since you are paying for the web design Singapore – give them a ballpark color and your reasoning why it is better suited for your purpose. This applies to all forms of feedback. Alternatively, you can share your expectations of the receiver’s future performances. Be clear with what you want, which leads us to the next point.

3. Provide examples

As an extension from #2, examples will help you and the receiver get the same visuals in both your minds. This can be in the form of what steps to take in order to fix the problem, what changes to make, or what new direction to follow.

Where possible, treat this like it’s the last time the both of you can sit down and discuss the task(s) and expectation(s), so lay everything out on the table and talk it out. (Seriously, how many times does this criticism talk need to happen? Unless it is completely necessary, once is enough).

4. Give them limitations they can work with

And because you aren’t a dictator, do provide the receiver with how much freedom he can work with, or the limitations he has to manage. This will allow him to exercise his creative license (it’s his job to have some input into the task, isn’t it?) while still delivering what you expect from him.

Last Reminders

In highlighting the pitfalls to avoid, the ultimate goal of constructive criticism is to help the receiver improve. The tone and attitude in relaying this information should be encouraging, despite the need to highlight the negative aspects of the situation.

Also remember that, not everyone can accept your criticism with an open mind – constructive or not, be ready to receive a defiant backlash that may stem from wounded dignity. You might also want to prepare for harsh words bent on retaliation or attacks on your personality – things that make you question why you are doing this in the first place.

I’ll tell you why.

Criticism that is constructive is essential to the industry at large. Not only does it funnel experience from the seasoned players to new beginners, it also helps develop best practices for the whole trade. As it may take a while for a newbie to catch up in terms of experience, criticism can help accelerate the learning process, and don’t we love to have more professionals around to help us achieve our goals?








Brand New! Career Resource PSDs

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Starting a new career? Trying to jump start your business? Maybe you just need sure fire designs to use for your client work. New to the Shop this week are all kinds of career resources to help you make that buck. Identity and Brand Mockup PSD Kit With so many platforms to grow your business […]

[Giveaway] 1-Year Blinksale Unlimited Plan Worth $180 (5x Winners)

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Freelancers have a lot on their plate, and although the most important role would be to keep the dough rolling in, sometimes keeping track of payments is a high-strung job. Times like these, you need a good invoicing tool to help you keep track of your clients, payments and invoices so you can focus on delivering the best job for your clients.

We’ve got your back. Together with Blinksale, we’re offering you the chance to win a 1-Year Blinksale Unlimited plan worth 0.

About Blinksale

Blinksale is full-fledged online invoicing tool with tons of features to help you stay on top of your project payments while keeping the peace with your clients.

Features

  • Create, manage and send new and recurring estimates/invoices
  • Manage your clients and contacts all from one hub
  • Invoices can be sent via email or printed out in PDF
  • Payment reminders and thank you notes included.
  • Invoices can be customized to include, among others:
    • sales taxes
    • freight costs
    • late fee
    • non-US currencies

What’s more, if you want a different look, you can even customize your invoice via CSS. Blinksale also comes with Stripe integration so you can receive credit card payments right into your checking account. You can now even send payments to fellow collaborators who also hold a Blinksale account. For at trial run, check out their 15-day trial here.

The Prizes

We’re giving 5 winners the 1-Year Unlimited Invoicing Plan which covers unlimited invoices, estimates, clients and users.

On top of that, you also get free support via phone and email, customizable messages, custom email domain delivery and PayPal integration.

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Using the Rafflecopter widget below:

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Be Unforgettable. Build Your Web Design Online Presence Even When You’re Busy

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How do you get more clients? Build a strong online presence, of course.

If clients and prospects see you online, they are more likely to contact you about web design projects. An easy and cost-effective way to build a strong online presence is through social media.

The only problem with building an online presence through social media is that most freelancers tend to slack off when they are busy. It’s easy to participate in social media activities when your schedule is slow. It’s not so easy to participate when you are rushing to meet deadlines.

Unfortunately, when it comes to your online presence the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” often holds true. If your potential clients don’t see your name mentioned for a while, they are likely to forget about you and hire someone else.

You need a plan.

In this post, I share an easy plan for maintaining your social media presence when you are busy. Best of all, it only takes 40 minutes a day.

online-presence
Image Source: Remember me this way by basibanget CC by 2.0

5 Essential Things You Should Know About Facebook Nearby Friends

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Nearby Friends is a Facebook feature that will inform you about your friend’s location when they are nearby. You can also use the feature to track your friend’s location in real time. This feature is available in the Facebook mobile app, where once enabled, you will occasionally be notified when your friends are in the proximity range of your current location. That way, you can quickly meet up to grab a bite together, all thanks to Facebook.

Facebook Nearby Friends feature

Released on April 17, 2014 and currently rolling out in stages, the feature is probably not available to you yet, which makes it perfect for us to have a quick discussion about 5 essential things you should know about Facebook Nearby Friends.

1. How To Use Nearby Friends

First off, for Nearby Friends to work, you will need to share your location with your friends and have them do the same to you. To enable Nearby Friends (when you get it), go to the More tab within your Facebook application (iOS or Android) and look for Nearby Friends in the menu to turn t on.

Any of your friends that has opted in for this feature by turning it on will be able to see you in the list, if the both of you share your respective locations. The list will also show the distance between you and your friend, their last logged location and the current neighbourhood they’re in.

Sharing Precise Location At Stipulated Time

If you’re not okay with sharing your location all the time, but for perhaps a gathering or a meet-up you’d want to, Nearby Friends has an option for you to set the time you are trackable via the feature. You can share the precise location of your whereabouts to your friend(s) for a period of time which you can set.

That means you can look for your friends’ precise location on a map and be able to tell when they will arrive at the agreed meeting point, or if they aren’t on the way yet (even if they said they are).

Share Precise Location And Know When Your Friends Are Traveling

2. Use Of Your Data

There is no such thing as a free lunch and yes, using Nearby Friends will eventually get you submitted to some advertising (says Facebook). Basically, there is a plan to eventually use the data gathered by your location history for marketing purposes.

The data you submit to use Nearby Friends can be easily harnessed by Facebook to share with advertisers who will probably forward targeted ads to you – which isn’t so bad. For example, you will probably receive an online voucher, if you and a friend are lunching together at a certain restaurant that has a special promotion.

What's In It For Facebook?
(Image Source: TechCrunch)

Then again, this isn’t news because every other Facebook features that requires your location even before Nearby Friends, can be used the same way.

3. Facebook Features That Use Location Info

Even before the launch of Nearby Friends, there were other Facebook features that use or rely on your location to work. Those features are known as Facebook Messenger, Nearby Places, Check-in and Status update. If you use Facebook Messenger and share a status update via mobile, know that your location info is turned on by default.

Facebook Features That Uses Location

So, technically, Facebook already knows your location as exposed by you from the features listed above. It just can’t track you most or all of the time, until now. If however, you are fine with this, Nearby Friends is probably a great feature to help you reconnect more easily with friends.

4. There Are Other Better Apps

Note that there are already a few other services that offer similar, or even better, features that bank on location sharing. Just to name a few there is Circle, an app you can use to find out what local events are happening around you and which of your friends are attending the events.

Then there’s Banjo, where you can get information about live events and breaking news on your favorite social network, sortable by location.

Connect brings all your social networks friends (not just the ones on Facebook) into one map. You get to see which friends are nearby, who is visiting from out-of-state, and your social address book is always up-to-date.

We recently also reviewed Firechat, an app that allows you to chat offline with peeps in your vicinity using Open Garden mesh networks, without an internet connection.

Other Similar Services

Note that if you are an Android user, you already have a feature very similar to Nearby Friends: Google Now Commute Sharing. Through Commute Sharing, you can let your friends or family know when you’re heading home from work. It works over the Google+ network where you can share your locations to those in your circles.

Once enabled, your location will be available in the form of Google Now cards when you’re at work, leaving from work and when you arrive homeevery step of the way.

5. Yes, We Need To Talk About Privacy

Nearby Friends can only work if both you and your friend share each other’s location. The good news is you have the option to share your location to your Facebook list , just a group of friends or make it public to everyone.

But let’s face it, most people will probably share their location to everyone on their Facebook since it is a lot more convenient to do so.

Privacy: Are The Options Good Enough?

Overexposing your personal information to everyone may result in nothing, or it may come back and bite you one day. There are repercussions to oversharing that is unique to each individual so do use the feature with caution, rather than complain about how Facebook is invading your privacy or misappropriating your private data when something bad happens. The feature is optional, and at the end of the day, remember that you are in charge of your own privacy matters.

Conclusion

In comparison to other similar services, one clear advantage Facebook Nearby Friends has is that most of your friends are probably already on Facebook. One possible disadvantage is, this feature could probably have an effect on your battery life. However, if you want to bring your online social life back to real life, this is probably one of the best Facebook feature that could turn that into reality.