Have you ever been on the receiving end of criticism and felt that you just had the wind knocked out of you? While most criticism is intended as helpful advice, many people have poor communication skills and the message gets lost in the delivery. If you're responsible for supervising any group of people, whether small children, a sports team or employees, it's inevitable that you'll need to deliver criticism. When that time comes, keep in mind that positive criticism gets much better results than negative criticism. Learn how you can constructively criticize as you read on.
1Try The Hamburger Method
One of the best ways to deliver criticism is through a technique called the hamburger method. Keeping this process in mind will help you stay positive when correcting someone. Start with something positive - the bun, discuss the problem - the patty, and then finish with another complement - the bun. When talking about the situation, refrain from attacking the individual. Focus on the behavior or the situation, not the person.
2Point Out The Issue Directly
When you're approaching someone with a complaint or criticism, deal directly with the problem. This is no time for subtle hints. Come right out and say what you need, and then offer a workable solution. You can avert problems before they start by making sure your directions leave no room for misunderstanding.
When you need to correct someone, ask him or her to explain their perspective of how to handle their task. A difference in expectations could be causing the problem. If so, state clearly what you want, so they have an opportunity to change the problem.
3Move On From The Issue Quickly
Once you've established what you want, let this issue rest and give the other person time to process and implement changes. Over time, sometimes continued prompts may be needed, but most people will be able to implement change as long as they don't feel threatened. The ideal situation is where the person listens to your feedback, understands the desired outcome, and then finds a way to achieve that outcome. You can encourage this behavior with clear expectations.
4Avoid Publicly Humiliating The Concerned
Unless you're addressing an entire group, who can all learn the same lessons from your criticism, speak to individual employees privately. Showing respect by not embarrassing them in front of their co-workers will lessen any adverse reactions and can lead to a more useful conversation about the issues. If your workplace is made up of cubicles, borrow someone's office or a conference room to converse privately. Avoid starting office gossip by having a private conversation amid open cubicles and curious ears.
5Be Specific In Calling Out A Problem
Relay exactly what the problem is and determine a solution. Vague criticism can be just as harmful as harsh criticism. For your best results, when giving details, strive to strike a balance between being overly critical and being indistinct. Rather than saying, "We need to see improvement from you," try, "Our sales numbers are down for this quarter. I need you to schedule more sales meetings for the next month."
When delivering criticism, always consider the other person's point of view before making your comments. Constructive criticism can be helpful and even appreciated if done effectively. Use these techniques to deliver your criticism, and you'll foster a positive environment where everyone can thrive.
Jackie Wing is an Alaska native, who enjoys snowboarding more than is probably socially acceptable. She lives in Anchorage with her two dogs Reese and Peanut, or as she likes to call them "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."