Criticism can either be a good thing or a very damaging thing. It is all in the delivery and the intent. If your goal is to help someone improve so they learn from their mistakes, an honest critique can be a useful means to your end. However, if you are only interested in bashing them to make you feel superior, you can stop reading now.
Here are 12 guidelines to remember the next time you have to tell someone that he or she has done something wrong:
- Identify the behavior that you want to criticize. Direct your criticism at action, not the person. Make criticisms specific. Not “You always miss deadlines;” But: “You missed the March 15 deadline for your report.”
- Be sure the behavior you’re criticizing can be changed. Foreign accents, baldness, and other things tangentially related to some business dealings cannot always be changed.
- Use “I” and “we” to stress that you want to work out the problem together, rather than making threats.
- Make sure the other person understands the reason for your criticism.
- Don’t belabor the point. Short and sweet; no lectures.
- Offer incentives for changed behavior.
- Offer to help the person correct the problem.
- Don’t set a tone of anger or sarcasm. Both are counterproductive.
- Show the person you understand his or her feelings. They need to believe you have their best interests at heart.
- If you’re putting your criticism in writing, cool off before writing the critical letter or memo. Be sure only the person it is intended for sees it.
- Start off by saying something good.
- At the end, reaffirm your support and confidence in the person.
Above all else, do not elevate yourself by putting the person down for their mistake. Approach it as a team effort with the same goal in mind: a better performance. Treat them the way you might wish to be treated if the situation was reversed. You will both feel better about it in the end if you do, and reaching a satisfying resolution will be easier. You may even learn a thing or two about them and yourself in the process. They call that a win-win.
This article was written by: Issues I FacePhoto Credit: Ben Hershey