In the last post, I gave you a story about some deadly criticism in my own life.  To talk about what she did wrong, let’s go back to what she didn’t do.

1.  She did not give specifics as to the exact nature of the problem.

2.  She picked out two wrongs and harped on them at length focused attention on them instead of evaluating the entire performance and giving positive feedback with the negative.

3.  Rather than use a professional voice and an evaluation sheet, she yelled in front of my supervising classroom teacher (and the students).

4.  Her rant ripped me to shreds instead of building me up.  In other words, it did nothing to help me better myself.

5.  Her rant was all about her really, and not about me or my overall performance at all.

Escaping Criticism

Escaping Criticism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So taking the above, how can we make a list of things to help us criticize(critique) well?

1.  Always give specifics about the nature of the criticism.  A person cannot change something if they don’t fully understand what it is that needs changed. {And yes, I better insert here that the person has the choice of changing or not.}

2.  A criticism that picks out one fly in the ointment one or two things without evaluating the whole is criticism that does not help.  All of us make errors in judgment and grammar and more at times.  Every little mistake does not need harped on criticized.

3.  There is no need to use a raised voice, foul language, or humiliation in critiques.  This behavior defeats the purpose and cuts off any possibility of the other person really hearing what you’re trying to say.  High horse riding Overtones of superiority also fall in this category.

4.  “They” say that you need at least 3 positive statements for each negative.  I have heard as many as 8 to 1.  When you take it upon yourself to criticise, evaluate the entire thing.  Start with several positive aspects and things done well.  Build them up.  Then, if you feel you must, point out a couple of things the person could have done better.  If possible, provide feedback about HOW they could do it better in the future.

5.  It’s not about you.  If you feel the need to violate any of these rules of criticism, you have not taken yourself out of the equation.  It’s not about you.  The sole focus of critique should be on the other person and helping them. It’s not about you.  It is not to make you feel better.  It is not to let you feel superior to others.  It is to help someone improve. It’s not about you.

positive feedback virtuous circle

positive feedback virtuous circle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the criticism in the story was a professional criticism.  Criticism happens in almost every relationship we have.  It most certainly happens in marriages and families.  It can destroy others, and is not to be used lightly!

Questions for thought:

Do you have a critical tongue?  Do you follow the rules of proper criticism or do you follow the way of my college supervisor?  Think about a time when someone else’s criticism has hurt you in some way; is this what you want others to feel when you help them?  Criticism has it’s place, but it must be used sparingly and carefully.  Do you agree or disagree?  How will you change your own method of criticism if needed?