Criticism – Part II
Last blog, we
talked about receiving criticism and offered a few practical suggestions on how
to take it. In this blog, I want to discuss how to give a negative feedback. In
your role as a supervisor or a teacher, it becomes your responsibility to be a
coach, a counselor, and a disciplinarian. It is critical that feedback is given
in a careful and a balanced way. When people, let alone difficult ones, are
under fire, they tend to get defensive and counter attack.
Therefore, you need
to be prepared. Keep in mind, the goal of dishing out a negative feedback is to
alter a certain behavior and not to take this opportunity to launch a personal
attack against the person.
- Get to the
point - No need to soften the criticism by mixing it with irrelevant praises.
You will either confuse the recipient or you will make them feel manipulated.
It is OK, however, to link positive and negative comments when the connection
- Be Johnny on
the spot - If you see an action that requires a feedback, do not wait. It is
better to provide the feedback as soon as possible once you have collected all
the necessary information to make an informed decision.
- Do not
criticize if you or the recipient are emotionally unstable. Never attempt to do
so when you are angry.
- Be respectful
- Remember you are an adult talking to an adult. Keep the conversation within
boundaries of mutual respect.
- Avoid terms
such as "always" and "never". They do more harm than you can anticipate.
- Give detailed
examples, if possible.
- Allow the
recipient time to ponder and give him/her an opportunity to respond. It is
important to listen carefully to what they say.
- The power of
"but" - Use "but" instead of "and". Generally
speaking, "but" excludes and discounts the previous clause. For
example, "she is a very productive employee but she can
be a bit demanding" is different than "she is a very productive
employee and she can
be a bit demanding."
- Support your
comments with appropriate body language.
- Close by
explaining why the change in behavior in question is needed.
It is never
fun to be on either side of the criticism equation, but unfortunately, it is
not only necessary, it is required.
Adapted from Coping with
Difficult People by Dr. William Umiker