It’s possible to criticize someone’s work in a way that softens the blow and preserves the recipient’s ego. I learned how to do it from Terry Smith, my boss back in the days when I was an employee at Westinghouse.
First you say, “Here’s what I liked” – and then recap at least three positive points. (If you look hard enough, it’s impossible not to find at least three good things to say about almost anything.)
Then you say, “Now, if it were mine to do…” – and proceed with your list of specific criticisms. Putting it this way implies that what you are telling the recipient is your opinion, and not an accusation of incompetence or shoddy work on his part.
Source: Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing asters Edition, a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business. Sign up for Bob’s e-zine, The Direct Response Letter at bly.com/reports.