How to Be Critical Without Offending Anyone
These days everyone has an opinion, and most people are more than willing to share. This is all well and good, except a number of people do not know how to display their opinion in a non-offensive way. This can lead to large disagreements and anger on both sides of any issue. This is the case with everything from reviews to editing advice to political views. Criticism is a part of life, but it does not have to cause anger and resentment. So how can you be critical without offending someone?
Start off with something positive. It is best to ease into criticism. People are more likely to accept criticism if it is preceded by a compliment.
Try your best not to be upfront and rude about your criticism. Word it in a way that shows you are not just bashing the person, their work, or their views.
Use Conditional Words
Criticism is taken best when it is phrased using conditional words. By conditional words, I mean words like if, perhaps, might, would, and maybe. People prefer to receive suggestions rather than demands.
Example: If there was one thing I would change, I might suggest adding a bit more emotion to your characters.
As opposed to: Your characters need emotion.
The first statement reads as advice, while the second can be interpreted as a potentially hurtful demand.
When critiquing something, or someone, it is best to use as little of the word "you" as possible. "You" calls out the person directly and seems accusing, which people might take affront to. If possible, it is much better to use "I" so people feel less threatened by the criticism.
Don't Make a Big Deal Out of It
No matter how much you disagree with an issue or find fault with it, resist the urge to blow things out of proportion. People are more inclined to gracefully accept small critiques than large statements of their many errors. Try to make all problems seem like small, easily fixable issues.