Part I – What is the problem? Communication problems often highlighted to be the issues at workplace. Criticism is one of the communication problems which are common at workplace. Criticism exists because everybody has something to say in their own opinion relating another person’s. What is criticism?  Criticism is the judgements of the merits and faults of the actions or work of another individual. Criticism can mean merely to evaluate without necessarily finding fault. However, usually the word implies the expression of disapproval.
Most of people might have experienced being criticized by colleagues, boss, and customers whom we have to deal with every single day at workplace. No one likes to receive criticism and most of us do not like to give it either. But in the workplace endeavors demand feedback and evaluation. Today’s workplace often involves team projects. Thus, as a team member, we will be called to judge the work of others and also others will judge us as well. The evaluations mainly in terms of how we doing on a project, what went well, what failed and how can we improve our efforts.
Whereas a leader or supervisors, it is important to evaluate subordinates. This is because good employees always seek positive feedback from their supervisors. In addition, detailed observations about their work is need timely to reinforced what they do well and help them to overcome weak spots. However, making a feedback or receiving a criticism is not easy because it might lead to insults. Therefore, we find this topic of ‘How to Handle Criticism at Workplace’ very interesting to conduct a research on it.
We have conducted a formal research on the said topic to find all the relevance information through web and book. Following part will be a discussion based on our findings. Part II – What I discovered? Types of Criticism From our findings, there are five types of criticism, they are Constructive Criticism, Destructive Criticism, Misleading Criticism, Absence of Criticism and Requested Criticism. Constructive comments reinforce good behavior or motivate us to make positive changes. Constructive criticism sometimes called feedback or justified criticism.
It is the criticism given to us to improve our performance. It does not usually just call out on something that is wrong or perceived to be wrong, it actually gives some idea of what to do in order to correct it. Justified criticisms are often spoken strongly, but fairly and with a reasonable tone. For example, Comedian Milton Berle was dining with his wife when a waiter put too much pepper on her salad. Mrs. Berle tasted it and offered a constructive criticism “Needs more salad. ” Destructive Criticism is a negative criticism that is unjustified when it results from the wrong motive.
Psychologist and author Henry C. Link says, “If you wish to make enemies, tell people simply, ‘You are wrong’. This method works every time. ” If they cannot explain why you’re wrong, their motive is likely destructive, not constructive. Destructive criticism is sometimes referring to as unjustified criticism or insults. Destructive criticism is any criticism which only serves to attack the character of a person or the quality of their work. It’s usually given with a hateful tone and is petty and unhelpful. Next is Misleading Criticism which results from errors or lack of knowledge.
For instance, Stanley Marcus, chairman emeritus of the Neiman Marcus stores, is concerned about misleading, inflated compliments. “We frequently hear something described as ‘terrific’ when it’s merely OK; or ‘fabulous’ when it is just good. Unsophisticated audiences are likely to react to artistic performances in one of two ways. One is to sit on their hands and not applaud because they don’t know what is good or bad. The other is to over-respond by reacting to a symphony in the same manner as a football crowd does to a forty-yard pass.
Both reactions reflect a lack of knowledge which is not necessarily the fault of the members of the audience. ” Absence of Criticism may sound appealing, but it often signals a lack of concern by those around us or an absence of leadership. For examples, a Gallup Poll published in First Break all the Rules found the most profitable companies are those where employees receive praise or criticism once a week. Meaning to say that silence leads to slippage, not success. Requested Criticism exist when the person who holds an attitude of “I’m perfect” or an organization with employees who feel “we don’t need to change”, are destined to fail.
Other example is Eye on Excellence trainer Steve Phillips always closes his workshops with a request: “If you don’t rate me as outstanding, tell me why. ” Causes and Effects of Criticism Criticisms exist when there is lack of trust. Trust is important as competence. The employees tend to criticize their boss when they have been given over-promise to rise up salary or bonus if higher-up performance. This situation always take place at workplace whereby some employees will take time to talk about their dissatisfactions to other colleagues when their boss break their trust by not fulfill the given promise.
In contrast, another situation exists when boss lose trust on his or her subordinates who are under-perform in completing the given task. Here, the boss tends to criticize the subordinates by giving negative or destructive comments or judgements which will underestimate the person’s ability or talent in performing the job task. In addition, when the boss reacts negatively or insults the related person, the colleagues who seeing the changes will start to criticize or gossip the news. The juicier the story, the more exciting it becomes which will spread as grapevine at workplace.
Next, jealousy is one of the reasons of criticism. For instance, when we, as the employee are good in something, critics by other colleagues appear with the intentions that want us to fail. When the jealousy level is high, more rumors will be spread. Some will tend to overtake our customers as well by talking bad about us and when the customers believe on it, they will no longer in line with the services. Fear also brings criticism because a person can be defined by their fears. Fear of the unknown will bring out crowds of critics, especially when it comes to Activity Based Management, e. g. What’s going to happen to the people who perform non-value activities? ” Moreover, it is human nature to criticize and it is instinctive for people to focus on the negative instead of the positive. Criticism also exists because people will often attack things they don’t like, not things that are wrong. One of the things people don not like is change. This can be a big issue at workplace when subordinates do not agree on the changes made by higher management or supervisor. They can spread up bad rumors about the company’s management to other colleagues and the news also can reach to customer’s ears as well.
When the environment at workplace is in poor condition, obviously this will affect company’s establishment as the employees will react negatively upon the dissatisfaction and ignores their duties and obligations. This ignorance unknowingly can lead the customers to stop being loyal due to the bad impressions on the company’s bad service. When the boss also ignoring the problem or workplace criticism, the project will not be improved for better results but giving a nod to the criticism, which is not really understanding or delving into the why and asking how it can be improved on.
How to Handle Criticism at Workplace? 1) Giving Criticism At work place, criticism can be given in two forms; they are oral criticism and written criticism. Most of the times, oral criticism is given because it is more convenient to just talk face-to face with employees. Moreover, personal feedbacks offer an opportunity for listener to ask questions and give explanations. Also, it allows you to ask the employee how you can help them improve. This also develops the employee’s self-confidence, and reassures them that management is giving support, not accusing them of mistakes.
However, sometimes written communication is chosen because it has the advantage of permanency; the employee may refer to it any time they wanted. Written criticism also has the advantage of being able to make careful word choice since it is harder to choose appropriate words when it comes to face to face criticism. Besides, written criticism also provide avenue for more detailed criticism. However, no matter what form of communication you choose, they are a few rules we need to follow in order to better handle workplace criticism.
The most important rule is do not attack. If you attack an employee with verbal blows like “how could you be so stupid! “, the employee will become defensive and will not listen, because he/she is too busy preparing a rebuttal. He/she is not going to get your corrective feedback. Therefore, criticize the work, never the worker. The second rule is not to threaten. Threatening will never help in motivating the employees; it only sends a clear message to the employees that you have little confidence in his/her willingness to change.
This will destroy any positive attitude you are trying to develop. You should always criticize in a private place. If you give criticism to an employee when others can hear it, he/she may feel embarrass and it can destroy his/her morale. Try to deliver criticism in the employee’s own office, he is apt to feel less intimidated there – or find somewhere you can not only not be heard but preferably not be seen by other employees Other than those rules you need to know, there are some techniques you may follow when giving criticism in order to give criticism effectively.
Often, in criticizing, managers harp on the past by telling the employee over and over what he did wrong. When we say ‘Why did you do that? ‘ for too many times, it sounds like ‘How come you are so stupid? ’ to the employees. Instead, be “future-oriented by focusing on what you expect from the employee in the future. That shifts the emphasis from the negative and entirely into the positive. Besides that, a supervisor can combine criticism of subordinates’ performance with praise which will make every criticism a positive event.
For example, if the business associate had ten things to do, eight of which were done to perfection, do not spend 80% of your time talking about the two things that the subordinates did wrong. However, if a supervisor do not compliment usually, he/she should avoid doing so. The supervisor will have to be direct when it comes to criticizing the employees. If the supervisor sugarcoats his criticism with complement, the workers may either doubt the sincerity of your compliment or not take the advice as seriously as they should. Instead, focus immediately on the task or behavior you wish to change.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore the need to preserve your employee’s self-esteem, however. Example: “John, these fact sheets are incomplete. You’re usually very thorough in your reports. Can you tell me anything about this? ” This preserves the employee’s self-esteem and reduces defensiveness, while staying focused on the specific problem. In addition, you have to be specific about the change or result you want. The change you want is probably so obvious to you that you assume it is understood by the employee. Constantly communicating your standards and expectations helps everyone stay on track.
Consider the time, energy and anxiety caused by this vague criticism: “Brenda, you must work on writing better memos. Work on improving your style next time. It needs to be tightened up, OK? ” A better approach might be: “Brenda, you made some interesting points in this memo, but they were hard to find because of the memo’s structure. Next time, try limiting it to a half page and underline each key point. ” Besides, by using the word ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ managers would be able to emphasize on organization’s expectations instead of personal ones.
The managers should involve employees in thinking through solutions as well. This technique helps to eliminate blaming from the employees. Involving the employee in thinking though solutions to mistakes encourages a healthy discussion of the problem and forces the employee to take responsibility for solving it. Receiving Criticism Responding to oral criticism Direct criticism is very common in the workplace since it is easier for someone to give you a face-to-face criticism than writing you a written criticism. However, handling direct criticism properly can be very tricky for many people.
This is because it is easy for the receivers to lash back at the critic since it is harder to control their emotions at the heat of the moment when they hear someone criticize them in their face. To avoid losing temper the moment you hear someone criticizing you, either from a boss or a colleague, here are a few steps you can take. The first step is hitting the pause button. It’s important to maintain self-control and not to lash back or respond defensively to criticism. Take a breath. Do not do or say anything. This brief pause not only helps you prepare yourself to listen to what the other person has to say, it also emonstrates your poise and self-confidence. Maintaining calm when criticized shows that you are in control. The second step is turning on your brain and turning off your emotions. It’s important to disconnect our automatic emotional response to criticism. Otherwise you will not be able to objectively consider the value of the information. Focus on the words and facts, not on the feelings the critic generate within you. If the other person is not tactful while delivering the message, focus on the issue. When facing an angry person, be strong and cut through the noise for the underlying message.
The next step is listening carefully. Listen intently to what the other person is saying. If you are busy formulating our rebuttal, we may miss some valuable information that can help avoiding errors in the future or improving our overall performance. The forth step is acknowledge the criticism. When the other person is criticizing us, we should acknowledge the criticism, regardless of how off-base it might seem to us. If it is accurate, an appropriate respond is simply to agree by saying “you are right”. When you do not agree, you may say something like, “I didn’t know you felt that way. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. This shows that you have heard and understood the complaint, even if you do not agree with the opinion. Another way to respond to criticism you do not agree is to find something in the criticism that is accurate and acknowledge it. For instance, when your boss yelling at you: ‘ You can NEVER do anything right. ” You can respond by saying: “You are right. I did give the customer wrong price this time. ” This acknowledge that indeed you give the customer a wrong price but you do not agree with the statement that says that you NEVER do anything right. The following step is asking for more information.
Usually, it is not just enough to acknowledge criticism at work; it is better if we explore it further. Ask the other person why he or she has come to this conclusion and what they think might be the cause. Ask for details, even if it is painful to hear, and logically sort through the response. Might there be some truth to the comment? Is there something you could do to improve the situation? Even if you do not think you are at fault, it will not hurt to make concessions and to try to clear the atmosphere. This step also helpful when you cannot tell whether the criticism is constructive or destructive when the language used is unclear.
Asking for further information allows you to gain enough information from the critic to determine his/her intent. For instance, when your superior tells you: “You do not work well with the customers”, you may ask them back: “Was there a recent situation that concerns you? ” The sixth step is to acknowledging the mistake. If the criticism is believe to be accurate, take full responsibility. Stay professional. Do not blame something or someone else and do not make excuses in the hopes that the issues will fade away.
If appropriate, offer a diplomatic apology: “I am sorry that my actions led to that result. It certainly was not my intention. ” Once more, if appropriate, ask for suggestions on how to rectify the mistake and how to improve your performance in the future. The next step is taking corrective action. After hear the other person out completely, and listened to any suggestions for improvement, you should communicate your eagerness to improve in the future. If appropriate, describe any actions you will take to counterbalance your previous error.
The last step is acknowledging the other person’s motive. Thank the other person for the feedback and make sure to state how valuable you consider it. This demonstrates your ability to use criticism as a way to improve – an essential quality of a leader. In addition, let the other person know that you are open to receiving his or her feedback in the future. By handling a tough situation with grace, it shows maturity and professionalism. Responding to written criticism From time to time, written criticism is given from employer to employee as their job performance review.
In fact, some people would prefer to receive written criticism as opposed to direct critiquing. However, it is possible for someone who is receiving a critique to fire off an angry email or text message and create other problems to the persons who criticized them because they feel that their efforts are not being appreciated and angry about it. When they cool down, it is common for those who create problems to feel embarrass and regret for what they have done because it might create tension between them and the person who criticize them, or they may lose their job because of it.
There are a few ways to avoid creating problems when receiving written criticism: • Read the critique and put it aside for 24 hours after the first reading. After 24 hours have passed, an individual will be better able to assess the parts of a critique that were upsetting or invalid. • Re-read the criticism as though it was someone else’s work, and decide if the comments are constructive and whether or not they will improve the project. • Wait two days before responding to criticism, unless there is a time limit on the response.
It is easy to let anger or defensiveness get in the way of responding positively to a critique, and waiting to respond can eliminate that defensiveness. Part III – Conclusion Workplace criticism occurs when a superior or peer voices an opinion on a project. This opinion can be positive, negative, or a mixture of both. Being able to give and receive workplace criticism is important for many reasons. Primarily it helps to understand how to improve. This includes team work, account management, customer service, quality control and time management.
Sometimes criticism is negative and damages the relationship one has within the workplace. Workplace criticism can also be a constructive motivator that improves performance. Receiving criticism for a project or account you worked on is sometimes hard to accept. This is especially true when time and resources have been spent on a particular project, and the project was, from the receiver’s point of view, a great accomplishment. When we receive criticism that we perceive as unfair, we naturally choose to ignoring the problem, denying the problem, and blaming others.
Workplace criticism is not about a person only, but about the performance or project. From our research, we find that it is important to separate emotional connection from the criticism and view the criticism as an opportunity for improvement. We realized that the best way to handle criticism at workplace is by change the perception from an interpersonal attack to a chance to overcome an obstacle and be ready to accept the opinion of the work and be ready to talk about improving on the work. Giving criticism should be about continuous improvement. Ask the employee how you can help them improve.
This also develops the employee’s self-confidence, and reassures them that management is giving support, not accusing them of mistakes. In conclusion, workplace criticism should always begin with what was done correctly. This should be praise for the project or performance. Then the criticism should focus on what needs to be improved. We can give criticism if we have an answer as to how it can be done better. We also found that criticism is never been a bad thing but it is in how we approach and perceive criticism that it is bad. ———————–  Criticism , retrieved April 3, 2010, from http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Criticism  Mary Ellen Guffey, Bertha Du-Babcock (Asian Edition) Offering Constructive Criticism on the Job. Retrieved on April 3, 2010 from Essentials of Business Communication (Page 303)  Tom Pryor, Criticism… Gain that’s Worth the Pain , retrieved on April 3, 2010 from http://www. icms. net/criticism. htm  Tom Pryor, Criticism… Gain that’s Worth the Pain , retrieved on April 3, 2010 from http://www. icms. net/criticism. htm  By Rita Fae, Workplace Criticism, published April 25, 2007. Retrieved on April 3, 2010 from http://www. lifescript. com/Life/Money/Work/Workplace_Criticism. aspx