Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ten tips for giving criticism

1. Clarify your motive

The goal of confrontation should be to help, not to humiliate.

Ask yourself, Would I criticize if it were not a personal matter?

ask yourself, Will criticism make me look better? Cutting someone down to boost yourself up is the lowest form of ego gratification. It’s the sign of a very insecure person. Remember that it isn’t necessary to blow out another person’s light in order to let your own shine.

2. Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism
To whom does it really matter?

3. Look at yourself before looking at others
Instead putting others in their place, put yourself in their place. Have you successfully done what you’re accusing the other person of failing to do? Look at things from his or her point of view. You may see that you’re the one who needs to make changes.

4. Be specific
When you confront you must be tactfully explicit. Say exactly what you mean and provide examples to back yourself up.

5. Don’t undermine the person’s self-confidence
Try to find at least one area in which you can praise the person before you expose the problem. Stay away from all-inclusive statements like, “You always...” or “You never....” Assure them that you have confidence in them and their ability to handle the situation correctly.

6. Don’t compare one person with another

Deal with people on an individual basis. Comparisons always cause resentment and resentment causes hostility. There’s no need to create a bigger problem than the one you already have, so why arouse heated emotions? If you stick to the facts, you’ll be less likely to put the person on the defensive.

7. Be creative or don’t confront
Look beyond the problem and see if you can help them find some solutions. For most of us it’s much easier to be critical than to be creative.

8. Attack the problem not the person
Deal with the issue at hand. When a confrontation becomes a personal attack, you destroy your own credibility and find yourself in a no-win situation. The expected outcome of a confrontation should be that the offender leaves with a clear understanding of the problem and the hope that he or she can turn it around.

9. Confront when the time is right
The right time is just as soon as you know something is wrong.
You cannot escape the need to talk to the other person. When you wait too long you lose the opportunity moment, and the issue becomes history.

10. End confrontation with encouragement

Always give confrontation the “sandwich treatment.” Sandwich criticism between praise at the beginning and encouragement at the end. To leave a discouraged person without hope is cruel and vindictive. Goethe, the German poet said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.
In my effort to simplify things as much as possible, I have come up with one-word descriptions of the various ways people will respond to confrontation:
BYE. The “bye” people never profit from confrontation; they don’t hang around long enough. Their egos are too fragile.
SPY. Spies become suspicious of everyone. They begin an investigation to find out who in the organization is out to get them. Often they will avoid risking a failure again.
FRY. Some people will simply get mad and either fly off at the handle or do a slow burn.
LIE. The liar has an excuse for every mistake. Therefore he never faces up to the reality of his situation.
CRY. Crybabies are overly sensitive and become hurt by confrontation. Unlike the “bye” people, criers hang around in hopes that people will see how mistreated they are and sympathize with them.
SIGH. These people have a “That’s-too-bad-but-there’s-nothing-I-can-do-about-it” attitude. They don’t accept any responsibility for making right the wrong.
FLY. This category of people takes criticism and flies with it. They learn from it and become better because of it.
Which category has fit you in the past? Are there changes you need to make before you can take criticism and fly with it? I challenge you to start today.