Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Softening the Blow

When delivering criticism, keep these points in mind:
➤ Avoid the “but” bomb. “I thought the points you made in your report were excellent, but ….” The but bomb immediately sends up a flare and triggers a defensive reaction. The person hears but and begins constructing a reply instead of listening closely to your further comments. Try: “I thought your report was outstanding, and next time I suggest you include ….” Next time does not invalidate the first part of the sentence as but does.

➤ Keep it impersonal. Never say that some act or person was dumb or wrong. Talk about behavior, not personality.
➤ Keep it private. If you criticize someone in the presence of others, the person is not thinking about your message, but about being humiliated.
➤ Be specific. Don’t criticize in generalizations. Mention specific incidents or behaviors.
➤ Soften the impact. Try beginning with a compliment: “You are usually a very considerate person. That’s why I was so surprised at your behavior at lunch today.”
➤ Try advice. You can also deliver criticism in the form of advice. Instead of saying, “You’ll never even reach the basket if you shoot the ball like that,” say, “I’ve found that keeping my elbows in close gives the shot more power.”

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