Common Mistakes Made by Receivers of Criticism – Part 2

6 Aug

We’ve been looking at some of the common mistakes receivers make during a criticism exchange. It’s important to remember that during an exchange, the real control belongs to the receiver.   Invariably, receivers of criticism tend to get into trouble when they fail to exercise that control. Using that control effectively is a skill.

Here are some additional ways that receivers can go wrong and get off track:

  •  Be Nice Receivers: These receivers tend to focus more on “how” the criticism is being delivered rather than on “what” is being said. As such, they are easily thrown off and tune out if the giver’s tone of voice, choice of words, volume of speech, or body language are not to their liking. These receivers are likely to miss some valuable insights from the giver – or the “what” – especially if that giver is unskilled or crude in their delivery.
  • Innocent Until Proven Guilty Receivers: These receivers fail to admit their mistakes by blaming others or circumstances beyond their control. Admitting your mistakes sends a message to others that you are approachable and honest with yourself as well as with others. Avoiding the “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” attitude goes a long way in building trust and respect. In the long run, others will forget the mistake you made, but they will remember how you handled it.
  • Take It to Heart Receivers: These receivers have the tendency to personalize criticism before being sure it was meant to be personal. When this happens, self-confidence levels can really take a hit. Rather than try to avoid criticism in the workplace or worry about its sting, recognize that criticism is a given and learn how to benefit as the receiver. Learning to view criticism as an opportunity to do things better in order to achieve specific goals is a good way to de-personalize the criticism. So too is holding onto the perspective that criticism you receive at work is frequently related to your role and is not directed at you personally.
  • I’m a Victim Receivers: These receivers allow themselves to be victimized by givers who don’t know what they want. When this happens, receivers feel they have been dealt with unfairly, or victimized, because they thought they delivered exactly what the boss requested. To avoid feeling victimized, it’s important to utilize your control as the receiver. One way to do this is by coming up with your own solutions and then passing them by the giver. You may have to go through several rounds before you’re finished and the giver is pleased. But remember, each time you are criticized during the process, you are getting closer to what the giver ultimately wants.

For both givers and receivers of criticism, what you say, how you say it, when you say it and how you take it are all skills that require thought before action. In future blogs, we will look at learning and refining some of these skills so you can communicate more effectively with others and engage in productive, candid conversations.



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