May 29, 2018

Giving Criticism? Check yourself

giving criticism

Strong relationships are key to building teams, so we need to know, how to hand out criticism without devastating individuals, our team, and others. In our last lesson, we talked about taking criticism gracefully. Today let’s talk about giving criticism as a leader-coach.

Using caution is important, because careless criticism can be devastating to the team member and the team dynamics.

Giving Criticism

So before you confront, check yourself with some of these thoughts for handing out criticism:

1 — Check your motive.  The goal is to help not to humiliate. Three questions will determine your true motive.

  1. Would I criticize this if it were not a personal matter?
  2. Does this bring pleasure or pain to me?
  3. Will criticism make me look better?

2 — Are you sure the situation is worthy of confrontation?  Does it really matter? Continual, petty criticism is the mark of a small mind. You have to be little to belittle. We’ve all heard the expressions, “take the high road and be the bigger person.”

3 — Be specific whenever you confront.  Say what you mean and share examples. If you can’t be be specific, don’t confront. People can tell when you’re dancing around the problem and they’ll not respect you in the end.

4 — Assure them you have confidence.  Don’t undermine their self-confidence. Try to praise first before you jump into the criticism. Stay away from over blown statements that start out with, “You never…” or “You always…”

5 — Deal with people on an individual basis.  Don’t compare people with another. If you stick to the facts, you’ll have a better chance of not putting the person on the defensive.

6 — Be creative or don’t confront.  It’s easier to be critical than creative. So look beyond the issue and see if you can help with the solution.

7  — Critique the behavior, not the person.  Deal with the problem at hand. When a confrontation becomes personal, you destroy your credibility and find yourself in a no-win situation. The offender should leave with a clear understanding of the issue and the hope they can turn it around.

8 — Pick the right time to confront.  The perfect time is when you know something is wrong. When you’ve completed your homework, then you’re prepared. When you wait too long, you lose the right moment and the issue becomes history.

9 — Check yourself before looking at others.  Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place. Look at things from the other person’s point of view. You may determine you’re the one who needs some changes.

10 — End the critique with encouragement.  It’s called the sandwich treatment. Sandwich the criticism between praise up front and encouragement at the end. To leave a discouraged person without hope is cruel and vindictive.

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.” — Goethe, German poet

Next Lesson — Response to Criticism

Next time, we’ll discuss the various ways people respond to criticism. So come back next week.

For additional thoughts about giving criticism and caring for your team, check out another blog post,

For more growth and effective leadership coaching, check out this book. Be A People Person, Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships, by Dr John C Maxwell.

Handing out criticism. Do you have this ability?

Are you ready? Let’s Get Better!

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