12 Ways to Criticize Effectively
Here are 12 guidelines to remember the next time you have to tell someone that he or she has done something wrong:
- Identify the behavior that you want to criticize. Direct your criticism at action, not the person.
- Make criticisms specific. Not “You always miss deadlines”; But: “You missed the March 15 deadline for your report.”
- Be sure the behavior you’re criticizing can be changed. Foreign accents, baldness, and other things tangentially related to some business dealings cannot always be changed.
- Use “I” and “we” to stress that you want to work out the problem together, rather than making threats.
- Make sure the other person understands the reason for your criticism.
- Don’t belabor the point. Short and sweet; no lectures.
- Offer incentives for changed behavior. Offer to help the person correct the problem.
- Don’t set a tone of anger or sarcasm. Both are counterproductive.
- Show the person you understand his or her feelings.
- If you’re putting your criticism in writing, cool off before writing the critical letter or memo. Be sure only the person it is intended for sees it.
- Start off by saying something good.
- At the end, reaffirm your support and confidence in the person.