Criticism – can you do it politely?

HP has an management article on criticise politely.  Here's the summary

  1. Focus on the issue not the person
    1. constructive criticism
    2. on the issue, not personally
    3. if there is a personal performance (e.g. attitude) issue: separate  into two issues, don't mix up into a single session.  Get another session for personal problem
  2. Show appreciation
    1. Let one fell that you are on his side: say something positive, appreciation
    2. don't want them to feel failure, or feel you are angry
    3. feel the criticism on the issue, not personal
  3. Don't give mixed messages
    1. Don't wrap up the criticism in too much praise --> will confuse or frustrate one
    2. Bad:  “This report’s great! There are just one or two small things I’d like to discuss,”
    3. Good: “I think it’s good but there are a couple of things I’d like changed,” or: “It’s basically fine but it’s not quite there yet.”
  4. Right time, right place
    1. tone: polite and claim
    2. Bad place: next to the person at their desk, a room full of other people, before lunch hour
    3. Ask one if one has time to discuss, or arrange a time later
    4. Good place: find a room, a quite place, without being interruption
  5. Stay calm, polite and objective throughout
    1. look at the other person, keep eye contact.  Don't look at the screen or paper
    2. Make sure one understand
    3. Speak slowly and calmly, don't rush
    4. Allow time for one to ask and make comment
    5. don't turn into a blame session, don't make personal comment about their abilities
    6. losing control of your cool --> only makes matters worse
  6. Use the word "I" and not "you"
    1. Bad:  “You made a lot of mistakes in this section,”
    2. Good: “I found quite a lot of mistakes in this section. Could you please correct them?”
    3. Criticise the work, not person: “I found the overall tone of this report rather negative. Could you have another look at it and try to make it more upbeat?”
  7.  Make your point and stop
    1. say what you want to say, stop!
    2. Ask if they understand
    3. Allow them time to answer
    4. Agree that there will be follow up if work is done.
    5. show confidence in their ability to make the improvement themselves
  8. Ending
    1. before leave room, show appreciation again for their effors
    2. end discussion with smile



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