Easy to give hard to receive! How many times does criticism seem like someone is verbally attacking you!
I hate the attacking behaviors of others. Feedback is great but when others use evaluation vs description, or when others try to control and act superior is enough to make the hairs on your skin stand up. So how does one respond non-defensively to criticism? It would be great if we all communicated supportively with one another. But what do you do when the critic’s comments are on target? Despite the accuracy of your critic, it is hard not to lash out with a counter-attack or withdraw non-assertively from the attacker. Neither of these two responses resolves the situation or are very effective. 5 Quick Tips in Responding to Criticism
1. Seek More Information
It is foolish to respond to the critic unless you know all the information. Ask the critic for specifics. Ask questions. Get clarification around the critic’s comment. Often times there is some element of truth to the accusation, so seek specifics… only then can a conversation continue.
2. Ask about the Consequences of your Behavior
As a rule people complain about your actions when some need of theirs is not being met. Often times you’ll find that things that seem logical to you create a problem for someone else.
3. Agree with the Critic
First, you need to understand there are two types of agreement. Agreeing with the facts and agreeing with the perception of the critic. The easiest is to agree with the truth element of the accusation “Yes, I was angry.” or ” Now that you mention it was, I was being defensive.” Agreeing with the critic’s perception is harder. Even if you think the critics judgments are wrong, you can agree on the perception. For example, “I can understand why you believe that, there is always room for improvement.” Agreeing with the perception is simply letting the critic know that you have acknowledged their comments… nothing more.
4. Paraphrase the Critics Ideas
By paraphrasing what you heard the critic say, helps to clarify what was said and what her heard him/ her say. Often times criticism grows from the frustration of thinking the complaint has not been heard. When you start paraphrasing the information back to the critic many times the intensity of the accusation subsides.
5. Guess about the Specifics
Nothing is worse then when the critic won’t tell you the specifics around the problem. This can be very frustrating. Often times when the critic sees that you are trying to get a clearer understanding of the problem he/she will open up to you. Start by restating the critic’s comment, then add a follow-up question. For example, “I heard you say that you didn’t like the language I used in my report…. was my language to formal?” “Did I use too much jargon?” “Did I use to many analogies?” Once you have made your intentions clear the climate becomes more conversational because you both have the same goal.