People dislike criticism, especially when it comes from family, friends, colleagues or complete strangers! Let’s face it, we can’t get enough of others telling us how wonderful we are. If you want someone to listen to you, start with compliments. If you want them to turn off their ears just begin with a criticism.
In the workplace we need to be able to examine work to find better ways of doing things. If a mistake has been made we need to find out how to prevent it. Much workplace conflict arises from well intentioned meetings that begin with criticism, descend into argument and end up with accusations of bullying.
In the business world you need a system for taking the ego out of the criticism. The focus should be on the systems, the work itself, the communications breakdowns etc. Jobs fail because of bad systems, but the blame for the failure frequently rounds onto the people involved.
The best approach I have seen to ironing out the ego is the “Critique” rather than the criticism. A critique focuses first on the positives. Then it identifies how we can codify the good things and build them into our processes as systems.
Then it moves on to the things that did not go so well. Again it asks how we can codify so that we avoid repeating errors.
When you begin with the word “critique” the team know that this is system driven, and will not get personal. Instead of fighting and blaming each other for failures they look at the problem with a positive focus. They collectively seek to improve things in the future. Nobody leaves the room feeling bullied or blamed.
If things are going wrong and you play the blame game then things will get worse. Every manager should learn the skills of critique. I recommend “Managerial Grid Model” by Blake and Mouton.
However, if you just want to react against criticism and flip someone off, at least do it with style, as in then example below!
The Curse; by J.M. Synge
To a sister of an enemy of the author’s who disapproved of ‘The Playboy’
Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.
Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I’m your servant, J. M. Synge.