Criticism is Inescapable

21 Aug

As we go through our day to day lives, criticism is an inescapable form of communication. Whether in our personal or professional relationships, chances are great that we will be criticized for something we do, or don’t do.

Take the workplace, for example, we can be criticized for failing to keep the boss informed, not delivering a report on time, failing to collaborate with other team members, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Criticism isn’t limited to the workplace, it follows us home each day. We receive criticism from family members for not cleaning up the bedroom, putting dishes in the dishwasher incorrectly, talking back, etc.

Let’s not forget our friends.  Our friends can criticize us for being late to a birthday party, not returning an item borrowed, or when playing a round of golf being accused of moving too slowly, or hogging the ball in a basketball game.  The examples are endless and by now, you get the picture!

Since criticism is always around us, at work, home, school, and at play, why is it that many of us have not received formal training on how to handle criticism?

When asking managers and non-managers during workshops and seminars, 80% readily admit that prior to attending my program on criticism or constructive feedback, most, if not all admitted to receiving no formal training on the subject of criticism.

Think about your own training: Where did you learn to give and receive criticism? From whom? How long ago? Can you rely on the information you received to help you engage in productive conversations involving criticism?

Like other forms of communication, whether negotiation, debate, and gaining commitment, delivering quality criticism and effectively receiving criticism are skills that can be learned.

As seen in the Strategies for Enhancing Performance (2003-2010) national study involving over 320 participants in an experimental/control design, participants who received training on the subject showed a significant difference in their effectiveness at giving and receiving criticism when compared to those who did not receive the training.

If used effectively, criticism has many possible benefits such as: building trust and respect in relationships, providing valuable learning opportunities for receivers, increasing motivation, and improving overall performance.

If criticism is used improperly, not only can the effects on relationships be damaging, trust and respect for one another can be destroyed, individuals begin to doubt their abilities, and confidence levels can be crushed.

Because criticism is inescapable, and something we have to deal with everyday, learning how to effectively give and receive criticism are valuable skills to be learned and added to life’s tool box.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you will be criticized anyway”.


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