How do you criticize something without being a jerk?

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Author's Note: How do you criticize something without being a jerk?

Criticism can be hard to take. It can feel so personal, especially if it happens to be a touchy subject or a topic into which you've invested a lot of time and energy. In college, I took several conflict resolution courses and I still rely on the information today -- perhaps more than ever. One takeaway was that, even if the criticizer doesn't realize it, the point of criticism is often to gain compromise. And the most effective way to compromise is to figure out what the other person wants. And then help him get it. Putting someone else's needs before your own may seem counterintuitive, but it's often the fastest route to meeting your own.

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  • Bonander, Ross. "How To: Give Constructive Criticism." Ask Men. (Sept. 20, 2013)
  • Harrison, J.D. "Small Business Advice: Should Entrepreneurs Respond to Harsh Criticism via Social Media?" The Washington Post. May 24, 2013. (Sept. 20, 2013)
  • Poulsen, Shruti. "The Art of Complaining: Getting Your Concerns Across Without Criticizing." Purdue University. March 2008. (Sept. 20, 2013)
  • Zenger, Jack and Folkman, Joseph. "The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio." Harvard Business Review. March 15, 2013. (Sept. 20, 2013)

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