The delicate art of criticizing
Keep in mind that criticism is never positive, otherwise it’s a compliment. We often talk about how hard it is to accept criticism, but we must take into account that criticism is particularly necessary for the person formulating it. It can of course help the person receiving it to move forward, but it also allows the person formulating it to obtain something that corresponds to his or her expectations. Criticism is therefore a kind of request and in order for it to be efficient, it must be formulated sensitively. You get little by pointing the finger at the other person.
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4 tips to criticize efficiently
1. Avoid heat of the moment reactions
Are you annoyed by your intern or your mother? You must do nothing at all. Instead of acting emotionally, choose to reflect and come back to the person later on. Emotions are often the sign of our own weaknesses, not those of others. That’s why we need to take time to think about our criticism, what we want to gain, and not to fall into an easy reproach.
2. Don't make generalizations
Behavior, even when repeated, doesn’t make a person. It’s therefore important to stick to the facts. If your partner hasn’t put his coffee mug in the dishwasher for 3 days, there’s no need to tell him he’s always messy. It’s unfair and therefore inefficient, and what’s more, it comes across as an attack. Remember that the aim is for the cup to end up in the dishwasher, not for the other person to feel demeaned.
3. Find the right time
There’s nothing worse than criticism formulated in the spur of the moment, just before a meeting or before leaving. With this kind of behavior, you are preventing the other person from answering you, and you are ending the conversation too quickly. You should choose a moment when you are alone with the person to avoid making everyone uncomfortable.
4. Express yourself well
Criticizing requires a bit of empathy. If you are embarrassed, say it, but don’t overdo it. You know that it’s unpleasant to face criticism, but you must stop a certain behavior. Once you’ve had your say, listen attentively. Listen to what the other person has to say to you and try to find a solution with him or her. Use the basics of positive communication.
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Editor’s note – Criticism speaks volumes about whoever formulates it
We often see the world through just one filter, our own. Because that’s the easiest way of looking at things. When we formulate criticism, it therefore often speaks about us, our fragilities, our fears and our frustrations. The other day, a friend was telling me that my son was very clingy with me and that I was very possessive. Was she not judging herself? Was she not questioning the distance between herself and her child, her ability to give and receive affection?
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