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Something You Should Know

27 Oct

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mike Carruthers for his nationally syndicated radio show, Something You Should Know.

During our lively interview, Mike asked such challenging and thought-provoking questions. We discussed my background and interest in the topic of criticism, its reputation today, and the role “helpful” criticism can play in strengthening workplace relationships – all topics that I address in my new book, The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism To Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change.

You can listen to the entire interview here:   http://successmint.com/how-to-give-criticism/

 

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book, entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books) is due out this October.

 

 

The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt

10 Oct

Truth Doesn't Have to HurtTake a moment to think about and answer the following questions regarding the people you manage and/or interact with on a daily basis at work:

  • Do you find that managing other people can be very stressful, especially when you are trying to offer suggestions for improvement?
  • Are you desirous of establishing open communications with your staff or peers but are having difficulty making that happen?
  • Are you hesitant to point out anything that staff or peers can do better because you are concerned about causing tension in the relationship?
  • Are you interested in learning how to better influence others?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions then I recommend that you give some thought to the role criticism plays in relationships and bringing about change.

Interestingly, not everyone associates the questions above with the subject of criticism. Yet you will find that criticism is an underlying element in each of these questions. In my newest book, The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt, How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change, you will learn that helpful criticism is directly linked to strengthening relationships – the kind of relationships rooted in trust and respect, improving performance, and promoting positive change.

What’s so exciting is that after investing over a year to write, I’m pleased to announce that The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt is now available in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. To learn more about Deb Bright, visit her website at www.drbright.com.

Reassurance Seekers and Criticism

10 Oct

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Criticism is an inevitable fact of life, and we can use it as a valuable learning opportunity to help us as we pursue our goals. However, while the ability to receive criticism and benefit from it can become an important asset in our “toolkit,” there’s no need for anyone to invite criticism unnecessarily into their life. After all, there’s certainly enough criticism out there circulating around as it is.

Believe it or not, there are those who actually invite criticism into their lives – I call these types of individuals “critiholics.”

One type of “critiholic” that I have identified is the Reassurance Seeker. These individuals invite criticism by coming right out and asking for it! One way they set themselves up for criticism is by discussing their vulnerabilities to others all in hopes of reassurance. It’s the individual who turns to his co-worker and says, “Well, I wasn’t prepared yesterday in the meeting when I had to give that presentation. I really put that information together at the last minute. I hope it didn’t show.” When this individual doesn’t get the reassurance they are seeking, they think to themselves, “How dare he criticize my presentation!”

Another way they invite criticism is by asking others if they have a problem, as in, “Do you think I should go on a diet? Tell the truth – I’d be honest with you.” They expect a polite “no, of course not!” from the other person – and when they don’t get it, they become upset and put out.

When others catch on, Reassurance Seekers are criticized for their disingenuous attempts at receiving criticism because, in essence, they really don’t want it. They fail to remember that if you solicit an honest opinion, you best be prepared to receive one.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books). To learn more about Deb Bright, visit her website at www.drbright.com.

Keeping Your Promises

29 Sep

e4Do you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism more times than not? If so, are the criticisms you receive often similar in content or subject matter? If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you may be unknowingly (or knowingly) inviting criticism!

One type of person that habitually sets themselves up for criticism is the Agreement Breaker. Think to yourself – how effective are you at keeping your promises to others? Whenever you don’t keep your promises – whether it’s returning a borrowed item when you promised to, responding to someone’s email, or providing information to a co-worker – then you are opening yourself up to criticism.

Interestingly, there are some people I know who are good at upholding their commitments to others but not to themselves. They are routinely breaking their own agreements – failing to exercise, eating the wrong foods, not going to the dentist, etc. When agreements to yourself are broken, you are now making yourself vulnerable to another type of criticism – self-criticism.

The easiest way to minimize criticism and reduce stress in your life is to make a commitment to keep your agreements! Then others can count on you…and you can count on yourself!

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book, entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books) is due out this October. To learn more about Deb, please visit her website at http://www.drbright.com.

Criticism and Teams

9 Sep

In a team atmosphere, managers and team leads must be ever mindful of the quality of communication that exists within the team. What is especially important to make note of is the use of criticism. While the proper use of criticism can keep teams functioning at a high level, the improper use of criticism can chip away at the building blocks of good teamwork.

Regardless of your role on a team, whether as a manager, team lead, or team member, think about what role criticism plays when in meetings or during one-on-one communications and answer these questions to yourself:

  • Are team members willing to address another team member if work is not completed on time?
  • If a team member presents an idea in a meeting, is it acceptable for others to deliver an opposing point of view?
  • Do team members avoid using email when needing to criticize another team member?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then it’s likely that boundaries and guidelines within your team have clearly been delineated around the proper use of criticism. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s likely that the role criticism plays in teams is not well understood. When criticism is understood, and team members are skilled in both giving and receiving criticism, this helps to create a team atmosphere where trust, honesty, and respect can thrive.

Bottom line, our research has shown that you cannot have an exceptional performing team without the effective use of criticism.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book, entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books) is due out this October.

Eleanor Roosevelt on “How to Take Criticism”

11 Aug

imagesNo matter how perfectly we try to do and say things, none of us are exempt from criticism. It’s an aspect of life we need to learn to understand and develop an expertise in handling. Someone who knew something about dealing with criticism was Eleanor Roosevelt. Although widely admired in later years, during her tenure as the longest-serving First Lady in United States history (1933-1945) she was often a lightning rod of criticism for her outspoken views.

In a column entitled “How to Take Criticism” for Ladies Home Journal in November 1944, Eleanor Roosevelt had this to say:

“I think it is salutary to read criticisms, even unkind and untrue ones. I do when they happen to come my way in the  natural course of events. I do not seek them out, but they certainly tend to keep one from being overconfident or getting what is commonly known as the ‘swelled head,’ but all of us must be wary not to have our confidence in ourselves completely destroyed, or we will be unable to do anything. Some criticisms I read and forget. Some remain with me and have been very valuable because I know they were kindly meant and honest and I admired and believed in the integrity of the people who expressed their convictions which were opposed to mine.”

Eleanor Roosevelt seemed to have the true measure of criticism. She recognized that criticism was necessary for personal growth and that it helped to keep egos from getting too big. She also knew the difference between helpful criticism – the type of criticism “kindly meant and honest” and destructive criticism – which she referred to elsewhere as “valueless” and that “anyone with common sense soon becomes completely indifferent to…” Finally, she was aware of the inherent dangers of taking criticism too much to heart and suffering a loss of self-confidence.

While we cannot avoid criticism, as Eleanor Roosevelt’s column above illustrates, we can learn how to face criticism and become adept at dealing with it.

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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