Criticism is something each of us has or will receive. It is up to each of us as to just how we’ll respond to criticism, and it is up to each of us as to what we will take away from the experience. There may be a way to avoid criticism, but that would probably entail each of us working for ourselves with no other employees, and then ignoring all the things we’d really know deep down that we should’ve done differently. Our business probably would never really get off the ground if that were our approach. We would probably become our own worst critic!
There are people who are able to criticize without that criticism feeling as though someone had stomped on your foot…or worse. There are other people who seem to be able to criticize only if the message is hurtful, and we never quite know if the message was intended to be hurtful or if that person simply didn’t know how to make criticism feel better, or didn’t care one way or the other.
The people in our lives who know how to criticize without hurting us are showing us they really like our work and want us to do better for them and for ourselves. That is a most valuable gift. If you know someone who has that gift, try to determine how you might be able to copy their approach so your conversations with subordinates, even if somewhat critical of their work product, would seem to be meant to help them become better at what they do for the company.
I can remember working for a man who seemed to know when I was capable of a better work product and who would gently let me know he saw that in me and wanted to help me become even more important to his company. I got the message and I wanted to please him with improved performance.
If you have the need to criticize, try to be professional in the manner in which you criticize and avoid any remarks that might be taken personally by the recipient. If you are the recipient, try to be receptive to the criticism knowing that if the manager didn’t want you on his or her team, you’d have never been given the chance to improve.
By the way, this world of criticism is also at work for sales people who interact with prospects and customers. Usually the sales person is the recipient, fairly or unfairly, but these are learning opportunities and can be turned into situations that result in a long-term customer with whom you have a good understanding.
Tom Krist, CEO