Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 Tips on Giving Criticism That's Really Helpful

Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 Tips on Giving Criticism That's Really Helpful

Article excerpt

Nobody likes criticism. Handled poorly, it can sting, breed resentment and even cause us to lose a friend or alienate a colleague at work. No wonder most of us try to avoid it

But we need to learn from our mistakes, and the truth doesn't have to hurt. Criticism can enrich a relationship, whether you're on the giving or receiving end.

It's important to realize, too that criticism isn't always about correcting an attitude or behavior. It can encourage someone who's doing something well to do it even better. Helpful criticism can motivate people and be a learning tool.

Unlike praise, however, giving criticism implies the need to make a change in the way a person thinks or does something. So the exchange needs to be productive. Both givers and receivers share responsibility for making criticism informative, instructive and beneficial. Here are some suggestions:

Think before you speak. Be prepared, both in terms of what to criticize and how to express it. Remember, the only kind of criticism you want to engage in is criticism that will be perceived by a receiver as helpful.

Consider levels of trust. For a critical message to be accepted and not misunderstood, it's important-especially in a diverse workforce-to consider the trust factor. Where trust exists, people will assume the motive for a criticism is positive. If it's not there, bring up the topic of trust and try to weave it into the message before introducing the criticism.

Know how best to approach someone. Most of us expect a critical exchange to land somewhere along the spectrum of from "bothersome" to "painful." So it's normal to feel uncomfortable when you give criticism. But the goal should not be to wait until you feel more comfortable. Rather, it is to be effective when you give the criticism. Employees expect to be criticized, especially by a boss. Their biggest complaint is how it's packaged.

Clarify what actions are needed. …

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