Most of us can’t stand conflict. We’d rather put up with shoddy service or rude behavior than cause a stink. But when you ignore things like that, it just perpetuates the bad behavior. So here’s how to give constructive criticism without being passive-aggressive, defensive, or rude yourself. We found this in the home decorating magazine Domino.

  • First, let’s say a coworker is doing sloppy work, missing deadlines, or otherwise bringing your work down along with theirs. Do this: ask to speak with them privately and then express to them how much you count on their work, input, or punctuality. After that, tell them you’re disappointed over the fact that you’ve had to pick up their slack because they didn’t fulfill their duty. The key is to encourage them by telling them how valuable they are – while at the same time making the person feel responsible for their actions.
  • Now what about household help – what if they let you down? Like a babysitter, housekeeper, or plumber? If they aren’t performing up to par, consider your role in the equation. Were you clear about what you wanted from the start? If not, speak up now! You can’t expect improvement if you don’t let them know what’s wrong. The more direction you give and the more regularly you give it, the better off you’ll be. But if the person’s work is unacceptable, describe why you’re disappointed and ask for an explanation. Then bite the bullet and say you’ll pay for the work when you get the results you want.
  • One last way to give constructive criticism involves service workers – like cab drivers, waiters, or the dry cleaner. If a cab driver is driving like a maniac, tell him to slow down immediately – not 15 minutes into the trip. If a waiter is ignoring your table, don’t smolder through the entire meal. Pipe up after the first instance. But say something like this, “The service here is usually first-rate, this instance must be an oversight. But I’d like it rectified.” And if you’re met with a refusal or rudeness, take your business elsewhere.