CRITICISM WITHOUT PAIN

HOW TO GIVE IT-HOW TO RECEIVE IT

The biggest problem about criticism is that it can deliver pain. We all hate that (I think we all hate that) so we either avoid criticizing by letting things slide or we lie or else we’re so irate that we do it full guns a-blazin’ and accomplish only hurt or anger, disbelief or denial. That’s absolutely counter to what criticism is supposed to do.

  • The Main Purpose of Criticism is to FIX SOMETHING
  • It’s meant to be constructive- not destructive
  • It should end with a positive result

HOW-TO FOR CRITICS

What We do Wrong

1. The YOU word. Don’t start with blame- “Look how badly you did that!” “This work (or whatever) you did looks terrible”. Splat goes the self-confidence. Being so judgmental removes step one in fixing anything—the idea that we possibly could fix it.
2. Blaming indulges the critic. But it provokes anger and defensiveness in the “blamee”                                                                                                                                                          3. Blaming derails constructive problem-solving, since you’ve already said you have no faith in this person.

Criticizing Creatively

1. First- reassure your listener that he/she can surely fix whatever by talking about what went RIGHT! What did you like? What worked? That gets you off on the right “I know you can do it” foot.
2. Focus on the facts, never on the person. “Can’t understand how this job went through without X being checked.”. Name what went wrong—not who did it wrong.
3. Ask before you accuse. Easy, non-accusatory questions to discover the roots of the problem, what processes were involved., what didn’t work for you. Then you can start fixing what and who went wrong.
4. Adopt a no-fault policy. Make your criticism a fact-finding mission. Focus on the problem and how to prevent it’s happening again.
5. Be specific. Not ”I didn’t like that report” or ‘The party was terrible”. What exactly went wrong and needs fixing? How can folks fix what they don’t understand or didn’t even recognize?
6. Ask for a creative solution. Don’t solve and dictate on your own—that won’t work or last very long. Engage the other person in helping solve what you didn’t like— then they’ll know what to do and why and also feel empowered. And that you have faith in
them.
7. Build in a fail-safe check-in . If it’s a report, ask them to show you the first draft. A party? Go over the menu and decorations in the planning stage. Engage in what went wrong by helping solve the issue along the way.

HOW-TO FOR WHEN YOU’RE CRITICIZED

What We Do Wrong

1. Don’t react at once, jumping to your own defense. That sets up a competition about who’s right and if it’s the boss or an elder or a person in power, you lose.
2. Defensiveness is a weak and hostile position. It means you’re notready to listen or correct something and cuts off possible constructive dialogue.
3. Denying what went wrong or arguing that it’s not important or telling how others reacted to the issue is another no-no. If this person needs you to fix something, it needs fixing!

Creative Listening

1. Listen first. Concentrate on two things: What is being said and how it’s being said. This gives you a heads-up on how the other person feels and will create more appropriate reactions.
2. Ask questions. Get clear about exactly what you need to fix.  What has made this person so unhappy/mad/critical.
3. Say that you’re so sorry to hear this since you knew how important the report etc. was and that you worked really hard on it.
4. Get specific answers about what else was needed. Ask about the goals, which demographic needs the most focus, what aspect specifically was not working.
5. If you feel there’s more the boss needs to know about what processes didn’t work, add this now, as a helpful , constructive  suggestion, not an excuse.
6. Ask for a progress check. To be sure you’re both on the same page, check in along the way in your next effort.

Special Way to End and Leave

1. Say “Thanks for Telling Me.” What? Here you are, you’ve just been criticized. It may have been done badly, or cruelly, or  whatever and you may still feel angry or hurt and you should do  what? Yes, say “Thanks for being so straight with me. It gives
me a chance to fix what went wrong and tells me that you have  faith in me, in my handling the truth and in my ability to fix this.
I like to do good work and this helps me understand more of  what you want.”
2. Walk out with a smile and your head up high. No hangdog slinking  0ut of the room. This also helps the boss feel better, seeing that you could take it in and not fold. Since no one likes to criticize, this helps.

Handling Tough Situations or The Art of Compromise

Now that you know about my blog and will be tuning in (often, I hope) I’d like to write from another aspect of what I care about— connecting with others personally, and making it work in today’s emailing non-talking world.

So here are some ideas about handling tough situations face-to-face… Might be a little long-winded but it has lotsa really good approaches. Check it out. They can really help…

Who doesn’t ever need to make compromises in their lives? Whether it’s little ones like where we go for dinner or big ones like changes in your workplace, how you do your job or negotiating deals, there’s an art to getting what you want, compromising and doing it with some grace and style.

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The key to handling difficult situations successfully—ones that need some giving and bending– is this: learn to think through not only what your goals and needs are but concentrate on what the other person’s issues and targets are. Aim for “How can both of us come out with wins instead of ending with ‘I win, you lose’ “. This not only gets you to a solution quicker; it guarantees you a solution that will stick, with both sides feeling good about the end product.

Here are some basic approaches that can get you there:

  • Begin with a question. Define the issue before you start attacking what may not be the basic problem. Question with real interest in the answer. It helps de-fuse situations that can become accusatory and adversarial. Everyone needs to feel they’re being heard.
  • See and hear the problem from both points of view before you go off with your version and your solution. You’ll be surprised to hear a very different version of what you thought the issues were. Gives you a much truer focus for a solution
  • Engage the other person in arriving at a solution, rather than just giving the solution yourself. Asking for his/her solution gives you a chance to hear that person’s goals and needs right away. That gives you a chance to see where yours and his/hers fit.
  • Explain the situation using “I” not “You”.I must not have explained that well”  instead of “You got that part all wrong”. Instead of accusing, you’ll keep the dialogue going.
  • Present and explain your side without making eye contact! Placethe issue figurativelyon a table between you— talk about that down there. Eye contact is too hot- creates defensiveness, not hearing and understanding.
  • Edit what you say. Get to the point first, then add a few details as examples. We all talk too much at the start and the main point is lost. Refer to what the other person already knows before adding your point of view.
  • Add another question if you feel you’re losing attention. Problems only get solved in a dialogue, not a monologue.
  • Respect the other’s position. Lighten the atmosphere with a smile, give some respect for the other’s passion and point of view, show a positive attitude toward a solution– goes a long way.

Bottom Line: It always takes two to tango. Both must stay actively involved in order for anything to work out well between folks.