Criticize The Performance Not The Performer
This is just my opinion on how one thinks a “good” critic approaches a situation, It is not necessarily the way you think or feel. The article does have some good points for contemplation…
How To Tell Someone They’re Wrong (And Make Them Feel Good About It)
There are plenty of reasons not to tell someone they’re wrong. It’s uncomfortable, for one thing. You also might come off as rigid, unsympathetic, arrogant, or worst of all, politically incorrect.
Perception is everything and we give words meaning and meanings produce feelings, for example, if I say “your wrong” this brings with it a much more negative feeling than “you are mistaken,” would that be fair to say?
Here’s what all the touchy-feely folks out there don’t get about constructive criticism: It’s invaluable. The important thing is how you deliver it.
Everyone makes honest mistakes. What most people don’t realize is that embedded in criticism, constructively conveyed, is the wish to help someone get better at what they’re doing.
Any fool can deliver a meaningless “good job.” Being a constructive critic takes thought, effort and compassion. Here are eight tips for getting your good intentions across:
Pick Your Spots. Before you tell someone they’re wrong, recite–three times–Jack Nicholson’s tirade from A Few Good Men: “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Then answer the question: “Can he or she handle the truth?” If the answer is an unqualified ‘Yes,’ let them know they are mistaken, right then and there. If “No,” then keep reading.
Never Qualify. Trying to soften criticism with qualifications such as “With all due respect,” “No offense,” or “Don’t take this the wrong way” is slathering poison on an open wound. Avoid this infuriating strategy.
The same goes with showering praise early on, only to switch gears and unload with the bad news. At best you’ll come off as disingenuous, at worst, a jerk.
Sugarcoat Donuts. Some blunt but effective advice from James G. Ellis, Dean of the USC Marshall School of Business: “Never try to simultaneously be a good cop and a bad cop,” he says. “You need to deliver your view without beating around the bush.” Ellis’ faculty knows all about this. “Say what the problem is, and if you must amplify your message, say where your data came from,” he adds. “But make it clear that your goal is ‘movement toward constructive change,’ and nothing else.”
Paint A Picture. Ambiguity is your enemy when telling someone they’re wrong. Be concrete and don’t sermonize, even if the culprit knows he’s a sinner. Your feedback, like his priest’s, won’t afford a single clue about how he can extricate himself from purgatory.
Deal In Facts. Objectivity is crucial to constructive criticism. Remember that the goal is to communicate that a performance standard has not been met. Your sentiments (and certainly your judgments) are irrelevant.Never, ever talk down.
Focus On Behavior, Not Character. It’s easy to lapse into character assassination without knowing it. For example, in saying “You were lazy in preparing this report” you may think you are helping the author improve his writing; instead, it addresses your assumption about the person’s attitude toward their work.
Show Them The Way. Criticism without an action plan is worthless. Give them direction or keep your mouth shut.
Let The Fixes Feel Like Their Own. Chelsea A. Grayson, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Jones Day’s mergers-and-acquisitions practice, is acutely sensitive to saying, “You’re wrong” in a constructive manner.
“After I present my approach to someone I solicit feedback to ensure buy-in,” she says. “When I get it, and we concretize a plan, I often characterize it as theirs. If people feel you support their fundamental views and value them, achieving buy-in is easy and natural.”
Mark Twain observed, “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” Reform through care, not condemnation.
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