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How to Give Kind Criticism, and Avoid Being Critical : zen habits

How to Deliver Criticism Kindly

  • Don’t attack attack, insult, or be mean in any way
  • Talk about actions or things, not the person.
  • Don’t tell the person he’s wrong.
  • Don’t criticize at all. Give a positive suggestion instead.

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How to Give Kind Criticism, and Avoid Being Critical : zen habits

How to Give Kind Criticism, and Avoid Being Critical : zen habits

https://zenhabits.net/how-to-give-kind-criticism-and-avoid-being-critical/

zenhabits.net

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Key Ideas

Why We Give Criticism

  • To help someone improve. Sometimes criticism is actual honest feedback.
  • To see a change that we would like. If we regularly read a magazine or blog, for example, there might be something that often bothers us that we’d like to see changed. 
  • To further the discussion. Criticism can be a way to get a good, intelligent discussion about something going on.
  • To hurt someone or to vent our frustrations.
  • To boost our ego, to show how powerful or knowledgeable we are.

Why Criticism Hurts or Angers

  • The criticism is mean-spirited. If you use insulting or degrading language or put down the person in any way, they will focus on that, and not on the rest of the criticism.
  • If you focus on the person instead of their actions, you will make them angry or defensive or hurt.
  • They assume you’re attacking them. Some people can’t take criticism in a detached, non-personal way. 
  • They assume they’re right. Many people don’t like to hear that they’re wrong, whether it’s true or not.

How to Deliver Criticism Kindly

  • Don’t attack attack, insult, or be mean in any way
  • Talk about actions or things, not the person.
  • Don’t tell the person he’s wrong.
  • Don’t criticize at all. Give a positive suggestion instead.

Suggestion, not criticism

No matter how nice your criticism and how much you focus on actions, a criticism is often not the way to go.

A suggestion can be positive, it can be seen as helpful, it can be seen as an instrument for improvement and change.

Be Positive And Specific

  • Negative criticism hurts the discussion because things can take an ugly turn from there.
  • It’s easy to give vague criticism. It’s harder still to make a specific, positive suggestion:

Relate to actions

Never criticize the person. Always criticize the actions. 

And when you’re making suggestions, make suggestions about actions, not about the person.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

3. Be Specific With Your Feedback

The more specific your feedback, the more actionable it is for the one receiving it. Example: Asking for an article on communication is vague while asking for one on public speaking is speci...

4. Comment On Actionable Things

To help people improve talk about things they can do something about, rather than those out of their control. Critiquing the former makes your criticism constructive; critiquing the latter makes the person feel bad as they can’t do anything about it, even if they want to.

Understand the person’s situation and his/her objectives, then provide your critique based on that. And if you need to talk about something out of their control, balance it out by talking about things they can control.

5. Give Improvement Recommendations

Give recommendations on what the person can do to improve so they have a clear idea of what you have in mind and get a strong call-to-action.

With your recommendations, (a) be specific with your suggestions and (b) briefly explain the rationale behind the recommendation. Also, try to limit examples to one per point to make your case more impactful.

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“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” 

 Abraham Lincoln

The Importance Of Negative Feedback

Even when poor behavior affects our work negatively and we have a regularly established open space for criticism, we still often hold back for fear of getting a negative reaction.

Most people rather receive feedback on what they did wrong than just praise on their successes. So while we tend to categorize this as negative feedback, the communication is often viewed positively.

Don’t Overcomplicate Criticism

Too often, people over complicate the process of giving corrective feedback. It doesn’t require elaborate stories or some pop psychology analysis. 

Just a straightforward discussion with a few key points will do.

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Use The "Sandwich" Approach And Be Specific On The Expected Results

"Sandwiching" your critique between two positive things about the person's softens the blow, and avoids it coming off like an attack. The mix of positive and negative makes people more likel...

Give Feedback, Not Instruction

Keep your criticism to your observations, and the impact they have. Don't try to fix the problem, just identify it.

Offer to help fix the problem, and to support the solution that the other person comes up with. Unless you know how to do the work your coworker is doing, don't try to solve it for them—they'll ignore your feedback and you.

Give Kind Criticism, And Remember The Point Of It

The point of your criticism is to help someone improve, or to correct a problem, and your feedbacks should carry that message. If you’re doing anything but that, reevaluate whether you actually have legitimate criticism to give, or you just need to talk to someone.

Offer positive and specific suggestions to alleviate the issue at hand, or identify the problem clearly without talking about the person, just the issue.

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Pointless Criticism

In the context of poor communication, criticizing is when you knock someone down for the wrong reasons: to hurt someone, to vent your frustrations or to boost your ego.

It’s easy enoug...

Blaming

When you blame someone, you take any responsibility off of yourself and put it on them. 

It’s understandable that you want to express your dissatisfaction with something. But sometimes you need to express it in order to find a solution, not to point singers.

Ineffective Complaining

Complaining is exhausting because it puts pressure on the other person. 

Complaining often results in the other person feeling as if they should somehow “fix” the problem or else just get away from the complaining. 

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Negativity bias and feedback
Receiving criticism will always have a greater impact than receiving praise.

And we remember criticism strongly but inaccurately. But although criticism is more lik...

Criteria for effective feedback
  • The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback is conveyed with good intentions;
  • The timing and circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate;
  • The feedback is given in an interactive manner;
  • The feedback message is clear;
  • The feedback is helpful to recipient.
5 dangers of criticism
  • Losing yourself. 
  • Isolation.
  • Self-justification.
  • Bitterness.
  • Revenge.
  • Transforming criticism

    Criticism, even done poorly, transforms leaders. The sting of criticism given years ago can still cling years later. Most often, criticisms humble you.

    Preventing criticism
    Engage people early and often. Avoid isolation. It’s difficult to criticize the plan you had a hand in making.

    Choose teammates carefully. Don’t give persistent critics a seat at the table.

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    Criticism is a good thing
    It illustrates what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong, and what you can do to become better at your job.

    No matter how good or how seasoned you are, there's always room to grow.

    Dealing with criticism that cuts
    • Distance Yourself From the Situation to allow you to calm down. Do not react or take it personally. 
    • Try to Understand Your Boss's Intentions. Is he's upset with your performance or exceptionally stressed or prone to say things he doesn't fully mean?
    • Summarize the Criticism. Repeat back exactly what you think she's driving at. Try and word the criticism in a more positive light. "so you're saying I need to find a new work strategy so I can improve my performance?"
    • Explain Your Perspective. The more specific you can be here, the better. 

    • Engage in a Dialogue. Work together with your boss to hash out the unspoken details of the criticism.

    • Suggest an Action Plan and make sure to follow it.
    • Consider Giving Criticism of Your Own if the criticism is misdirected.  Tell your boss that his/her criticism was unwarranted or unhelpful, but suggest alternative strategies he/she can use in the future to make his/her criticism better.
    9 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism
    1. Use the "feedback sandwich" method when advising. Give a positive comment, then the feedback that could potentially be construed as criticism, and finish by reiterating the positive. Th...
    Constructive Criticism

    However needed it may be, people often view criticism as hurtful and feel attacked. And that puts them on the defensive, meaning they won’t be able to truly absorb what’s being criticized.

    That’s why constructive criticism is a helpful skill to develop when dealing with other people. Knowing how to do it drastically affects how the message is received.

    Feedback
    Feedback

    Feedback provides an opportunity to gain insights about a person's personal and professional actions.
    Without feedback, we will move in the same direction without realizing our shortcomings. ...

    Types of feedback
    • Positive vs. negative. Positive feedback confirms that someone is taking good action, while negative feedback shows what actions need to be corrected.
    • Formal vs. informal. Formal feedback is given on a set schedule, and informal feedback is short and follows after an action or event.
    • Annual vs. monthly
    • Verbal vs. written
    • Manager vs. peer
    Effective feedback
    Effective feedback is:
    • Objective. Don't let your personal feelings get in the way.
    • Timely. Feedback should follow when the event is still fresh.
    • Constructive. Give respect and show that you have their best interests in mind.
    • Actionable. Feedback must include immediate next steps.
    • Warranted. Give your employees room for mistakes and learn from them.

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