Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.






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Give Constructive and Powerful Critiques


Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend’s forehead.
~Japanese proverb


Critiques fail to improve performance when…

  1. Withheld for whatever excuses the non-deliverer has. This is the #1 problem with criticism in the workplace today. When was the last time you cheated others and endangered outcomes by not pointing out a failure to meet an expectation? And what was your excuse?

  2. Delivered in public. Criticize others in front of others, and the impact of your feedback is weakened by the embarrassment and anger you generate in the recipient. You also lose the respect of those present.

  3. Focused on the recipient’s attitude. Attack an attitude and you necessarily assault the holder of the attitude. “You need to change the way you think about customer service” is a personal affront. By contrast, you can slam a behavior and leave the person intact. (“Calls from customers need to be returned immediately, and no later than within one hour. No exceptions!”

  4. Delivered destructively because they...
    Pounce on the person rather than the problem.
    Ridicule the receiver rather than repair the error.
    Invalidate the individual rather than the instance.
    Hurt in order set an example, rather than help by setting a positive precedence. (That's why Abraham Lincoln once said, "He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.")

How can I do better?

One of my books lists fourteen principles to follow in the delivery of constructive criticism. Our Leadership Academy curriculum condenses the number to six. The problem is that in the heat of disappointment you rarely have the time, or presence of mind, to craft the words that will satisfy any number of prescriptions. 

It’s time for a different approach. Pushing the button below will bring you actual scripts of constructive and effective critiques.

Study them. Find those--perhaps a half dozen--that will be most helpful for the performance improvement challenges you face. Rehearse them in language suited to the situation and to your communication style. Get ready to be more successful with your criticism.

Questions? Requests?

Call Sam at (412) 487-2379