How to Criticize or Avoid Criticism

Avoiding CriticismThe image tells you exactly how to avoid criticism. Yep, don’t do or say anything. Oh, wait, that won’t work either, will it? You’ll then be criticized for not doing anything.

All of us criticize people. We may not do it to the individual directly. Sometimes we do, especially if criticism, hopefully constructive, is part of our job.

Let’s chat about how to give constructive criticism.

Providing constructive criticism requires you being balanced within yourself and clear about what you want to say. You want to be helpful, but you know some people accept criticism and others are offended by even the mildest form of criticism.

Providing constructive criticism in a positive and helpful manner is a skill. Like any skill it is something you can learn. You can learn how to criticize.

Let’s look at some strategies on how to criticize:

  1. Be sure what you have to say is helpful. You can say something which is true, but is not in any way helpful. If the person can’t do anything about what is happening, your criticism is not helpful In fact, it might be a form of bullying.
  •  Even if the criticism is helpful, that doesn’t mean someone will take it well. Be prepared for a tearful, angry or hostile response.
  1. Be sure you’re the right person to provide the criticism. What is your past history with the person? Has it been supportive or hostile? If you have a tumultuous history with the individual, unless your job position calls for it, find someone else to deliver the message.
  1. Be specific. Giving specific feedback is helpful. The other person has a specific goal or strategy s/he can focus on. Provide suggestions on how to overcome the situation.
  1. Right Time and PlaceChoose an appropriate time and place. Provide the feedback privately and out of ear-shot of others. Also, as much as possible choose a time the person is doing well. You don’t want to deliver criticism when the individual has just been diagnosed with an illness or received disturbing news.
  1. Remain factual and unemotional. Just give the facts and the solution. Even if you are upset, keep your tone even. In fact, wait until you’ve cooled off if you are upset.
  1. Focus on behavior. Avoid value judgments. Telling someone they’re sloppy is an insult. Telling them their tennis backhand technique is inconsistent addresses the behavior. Don’t make it about a personality characteristic. Make it about a behavior.
  1. Which is better? “Please pick up your dirty socks” or “Why are you a slob?” You’ll receive a very difference responses to the questions..Be Pleasant Everything is easier with a pleasant expression and a smile. Use open body language with your arms by your side, not folded over your chest. Be sincere. This means you need to be sure you don’t have an ulterior motive.
  1. Begin and End with a Positive. Say something positive or give a complement before giving your criticism. Begin your constructive criticism with a positive tone of voice. End the criticism with another compliment. You want the person to be receptive and make positive changes. By beginning and ending on a positive note, the individual is more likely to take your words to heart.
  1. Just Give One. Even if you have 20 things you could discuss, keep your comments limited to the one at a time, or two relevant ones. Begin with the ones most easily corrected. This helps him or her be successful. You don’t want to overwhelm the individual. That will leave him or her feeling helpless. You want them to be their best. This builds trust. Then you can give more serious criticisms which will be easier to accept if s/he trusts you.
  1. Use humor. Be lighthearted if appropriate. Humor can makes things easier. You could relate an amusing story about the mistakes you’ve made. This can ease any tension or embarrassment.
  1. Know when to stop. Watch reactions. It will be obvious when s/he’s had enough. You’re wasting your time and making a bad situation worse by continuing. You can find another time and place to revisit the issue if needed.

These tips can be used with your children, employees, or a significant other. There is no need to give criticism to casual strangers. That’s simply bullying. Providing criticism appropriately is a skill worth learning. There will be a time someone close to you or someone you’re responsible for is driving you crazy. Learn these skills before you lash out in a way which is detrimental to you both.

If you find you have difficulty is giving or receiving constructive criticism, let’s set up an time we can do some healing of the underlying wounds. Often a simple 30-minute session can do wonders. Click here to contact me. This link will take you to my website.

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