Common Criticism Mistakes – Part 2

30 Jul

Many people have received little or no formal training on how to offer corrective communication or criticism. If they have, the training frequently raises more questions than it answers. As a result, there are a lot of people out there who are ineffective givers of criticism. Because the mistakes are so rampant, I’ve identified and described some of the more commonly made mistakes for you to review and when possible, to avoid making.

  •  Who Cares? Givers: These givers show little concern for the receiver and often overlook the empathy factor entirely. They are either in a hurry and pressed for time or so intent on correcting the situation that they fail to recognize the receptivity and emotions that are being experienced by the receiver.
  • Where Were We? Givers: These givers tend to lose focus during a criticism exchange and are easily tripped up by receivers who are skillful at shifting the point of criticism and moving it to another topic. An employee who blurts out, “I can’t handle the way you are talking to me!” as soon as their boss begins a criticism exchange will have already moved the conversation off topic if the boss responds by saying, “What about my approach can’t you handle?”
  • Just Do It! Givers: These givers fail to point out or explain the benefit of the suggested behavior change and believe that the value is somehow implicit in the criticism. In order for criticism to be acceptable, it needs to be delivered in such a way where the receiver can readily see the value associated with making the necessary change.
  • The Sky is Falling Givers: These givers are notorious for never varying the intensity of their criticism. As such, all criticism is treated equally, regardless of the weight of importance or urgency. These givers often accompany their criticism with exaggerations and words designed to create impact. Eventually, the giver loses credibility because those on the receiving end catch on and learn to dismiss the severity of the error or criticism.
  • Procrastinating Givers: These givers delay their criticism and operate with the belief that if they wait long enough the situation will correct itself or the problem will somehow magically disappear. Because nothing’s been said, receivers are falsely led to believe that everything has been satisfactory. In addition, because these givers are reluctant to say anything, frustration and stress build up as the situation doesn’t improve until eventually these givers blow up and say things that are far more damaging than if the issues had been dealt with early on.

While we have been looking at some common mistakes that givers often make, the criticism exchange is a two-way street. Even if the giver is eloquent in their delivery, if they are interacting with a non-receptive receiver, the conversation goes nowhere and nothing productive results. It only further proves that receivers are in control of the criticism exchange – so they need to be skilled in receiving criticism or else they will fail to embrace the changes that are necessary for them to make.

Our next blog will explore some common mistakes that receivers of criticism often make.

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