Giving Effective Criticism

CriticismGiving Criticism can be as hard as receiving it. Holding on to negative feelings doesn’t help. Criticism does not have to be a dirty word.  It is possible to learn from the thoughts and views of others and if handled in the right way can get the point across without insulting the other person or being unkind.

The Coach can encourage the client to give criticism effectively by:

Considering how important it is to find a private place to have the discussion.  Many people react instantly without thinking about the consequences of doing so.  If the client wants someone to think about what he or she is saying then it is important to respect the other person’s feelings.

Acknowledging the person’s good as well as bad points.  The important factor is that the client is genuine in what he or she says.  Some people try to make up something as a way of placating the other person.  This type of false behaviour will be picked up immediately and the person will lose respect for anything the client says.

Avoiding becoming too personal.  Keeping comments to the facts of the situation and the feelings experienced.

Avoiding exaggerating the faults of the person concerned as doing so loses the client his or her credibility – the other person feels hurt or unfairly treated and neither can win.

Criticising the person’s behaviour rather than their character.  Behaviour is something a person has control over. Criticism is best given in ways the person can understand and can change.  For example, “it would be helpful if you told me when I do something to upset you rather than holding on to your feelings and then losing your temper with me over something minor”.

Describing the feelings the client experiences – for example, “I find it very difficult to concentrate on my work when you talk to me all the time”

Listening to what the other person has to say.  Effective communication requires active participation and active listening.

Being specific about what the client wants to happen.  For example, “I would really like it if we could agree a way of talking about what we both find difficult or upsetting about each other when it happens rather than storing up bad feelings”

Giving and receiving criticism can be made a more fruitful experience by applying a little structure and clarity to the process.