“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” - Aristotle
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Criticism can be constructive, which is seen as good criticism, or it can be destructive, depending on how and why it is given and perceived.
Constructive criticism, given in an empathetic manner, can open your eyes and mind to ways you might improve - of which can only be beneficial. Next time you have to give or be on the receiving end of constructive criticism, particularly in the workplace, bear in mind the following:
With regards to the workplace, finding a private place to assess an employees job performance is extremely important. By creating a safe environment for the employee, it will make it easier for both parties to be open and honest. This shows mutual respect, which in turn will make for a happier and more productive workforce. Throughout the assessment, if critical points are raised, do so in a manner which does not give rise to tension. Sharing your own experiences regarding assessments may ease a potentially tense situation, and will build rapport and respect.
Constructive criticism regarding how an employee is performing a set task may be made easier by explaining how your suggestions will improve the outcome, which in turn will improve productivity and allow objectives to be reached. Explanations made in this manner do not feel like criticism, and will ensure the employee is more open to such suggestions in the future.
It is all too easy to go on the attack if you are not happy with an employees performance. Verbally attacking will never have a positive outcome, and will only cause resentment, resulting in unsolved issues. It is always advisable to ask questions which will enable the employee to come to their own conclusions regarding their weaknesses. This self-examination will then allow you to make suggestions based on the employees own assessment, which will create a win/win situation. Safety issues however, should always be dealt with firmly and fairly, with many work places having their own health and safety staff.
Negative criticism is usually given out by those people who may have been constantly criticised as children. As we are products of our environment, this behaviour tends to continue into adult life with detrimental consequences. When criticism becomes a pointless summing up of a persons failings; the after effects for that person can be physically and mentally painful. Even if someone is aware of why the other person is criticising them, it is how the person processes this criticism that makes the difference. You cannot control what someone says, however, you can control how you perceive and respond to negative input.
If you always take criticism as a personal attack, you will never break the cycle of believing them, and not having belief in yourself. Their attack usually has nothing to do with you, and is more about them and their lack of self-esteem. Try to be aware of your own reactions in given situations with certain people, and you will form the ability to recognise them for what they are, and be able to deal with them in a positive manner.
Stay calm and positive. Always try to keep your emotions in check.
Look for positives among the negatives. Sometimes we are so inflamed at being criticised, we tend to take it the wrong way, missing an opportunity to improve.
If the criticism is made in spite with the sole intention of hurting, try to ignore it. Be the better person, simply because you are.
Negative criticism, if dealt with in the right manner, enables those on the receiving end to grow, mature and walk through life with their head held high; secure in the belief that with the right mind-set they can overcome any form of criticism that comes their way, be it negative or positive, which will create many opportunities to lead by example.