Most people find criticism hard to handle.
Many people believe that criticism means they are inadequate in some way or are being unfairly targeted.
You can handle criticism by:
- Ensuring you are clear about exactly what the criticism is about. This may mean you have to ask for more information. For example, “You say I don’t pull my weight around the house. It would be helpful if you could give me some examples of what you mean.”
- You may need to ask for more time to consider what has been said. After all, it can be difficult to identify what you think or feel immediately.
- Ask for more information if required and then state clearly your need for time to consider what has been said. Wherever possible tell the person when you will come back to them. For example, “I appreciate that you don’t think I do enough around the house. However, I need to think about what you have said and suggest I talk to you later tonight when I have had a chance to think about things.”
- Once you have thought about what has been said you need to decide whether you think the criticism is valid or not. If you agree with what has been said you need to accept the criticism and discuss any future changes. For example, “I’ve thought about what you said yesterday and I can see that I have not done as much as I could.”
- If you disagree with what has been said then ensure you disagree confidently making sure you do not apologise. For example, “I’ve thought about what you said and I don’t agree. We agreed a range of tasks and I have lived up to that agreement. It seems to me that you have included items we did not agree together and perhaps we need to talk about these”
It can be helpful to think in advance about how you would handle this situation the next time it happens. For now, think back of the last time you were criticised. Can you remember what was said? Can you remember how you replied?
I find it helpful to look back on a situation from the past, I can feel more objective about the situation, to be my own coach. Why not give it a go and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.
- What I could say
Giving criticism can be as hard for some people as receiving it. Holding on to negative feelings or simply “dumping” negative feelings without thought on to another person doesn’t help either.
You can give criticism effectively by:
- Finding a private place to have the discussion. How would you feel if someone criticised you in public? So many people react instantly without thinking about the consequences of doing so. If you want someone to think about what you are saying you need to respect his or her feelings.
- When you are giving criticism, see if you can find something good to say about the person’s behaviour. Acknowledge the person’s good points as well as bad points.
- Some people find themselves exaggerating the faults of the person concerned, almost as if they feel they really have to justify their criticism by making the situation seem worse than it is. Exaggeration does not help, as you lose your credibility; the other person feels hurt or unfairly treated and neither of you can win.
- Criticise the person’s behaviour rather than their character. Behaviour is something you have control over whereas there may be things about yourself you cannot change; for example, how tall you are or whether you speak with an accent. When you give criticism you need to ensure you give it in terms the person can understand and can change. For example, “it would be helpful if you told me when you feel I am behaving in a way you don’t like rather than bottling up your feelings”.
- Describe your feelings and how you are affected by the person’s behaviour. For example, “I find it very difficult to concentrate on what you are saying when you walk around while you are talking to me”
- The other person needs to understand the consequence of not changing. If someone knows that a particular behaviour upsets you or damages your relationship, this can be enough to motivate him or her to change.
Think of a time when you had to criticise someone, how did it go? What have you learnt from the examples above. It can be useful to think through and prepare so you have a good approach ready for next time. Why not give it a go and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.
- What you would say
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