Playground Studios Blog

How to Criticize Without Looking Like an Asshole

Posted by Palvinder Jagait on Aug 7, 2017 3:05:44 PM
Find me on:

Your friend or colleague works hard to create something.

He/She wonders whether it is good or not.

They ask you what you think.

You tell them all of the things that you think are wrong with it.

He/She feels terrible, gets defensive and things become awkward.




This is usually how critiquing goes down.. and it sucks. The problem is that it's hard to know exactly what you’re supposed to say.


So, we've come up with a few Tips to Giving HEALTHY Constructive Criticism. 


TIP 1. First Rate the Work (in Your Head)


The first thing you want to do after reviewing your friends work is rate it in your head on a scale of 1 to 10... This number is very important because it will be the basis of what type of criticism you will give.


 Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.27.28 PM.png


TIP 2. Proportion out Your Good/Bad Points (according to your rating)


Next, take the number you chose and give feedback according to that number. For example, if you rated the work 7 out of 10... you should say 7 positive things for every 3 negative things. You want the feedback to be proportional to the rating because it will give the creator an accurate assessment of their work. Most people have the tendency to emphasize the negative and barely mention the positive, but this will give the perception that there is no value to the work that's been created.


(FOR VERY LOW RATINGS: If you rate the work very low, like 2 out of 10, rather than criticize point by point, you might want to consider giving general feedback that the person needs to rethink how they approach their entire work.)




TIP 3. Don't Try to Sound Like an Expert


Try not to sound like an expert in the field, unless you are one. Unless you have degrees or years of experience, try to put your opinion in the context that you are a "passer-by" with an innocent, honest opinion. It's a lot easier to digest that than something that sounds pretentious. The only reason people create things is to inspire some kind of feeling, so when you review their work try not to get too intellectual about it. Instead, ask yourself "Did this work inspire me to feel what it wanted me to feel," and from there, construct your criticism.




TIP 4. Don't Look for the Bad Things


Looking of negatives doesn’t necessarily make someone better. Just review the content with a clean slate and see what parts do something to you and what parts don't. If a work is good or bad, it will inevitably inspire some kind of good or bad reaction from you. Let that reaction come naturally instead of trying to force it, and then try to describe that reaction as best you can.




TIP 5. Inspire

On the whole, try to be as caring and nurturing as possible. There’s a lot to be said about finding the good in a work that will make the creator more inspired to work harder. If you can find reasons why their work can be “great”, try to emphasize that. Positive reinforcement will help give the person renewed energy to work twice as hard to perfect their work…and it will also help them digest the negative criticism well too.



That has been our guide to healthy criticism. We hope you have enjoyed it! If you have any suggestions on things we can add to this, feel free to email us at [email protected].

Topics: production, tips, guide, video