12 Steps to Effective Criticism

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12 Keys to Effective CriticismHere are 12 guidelines to remember the next time you have to tell someone that he or she has done something wrong.

  1. Identify the behavior that you want to criticize.  direct your criticism at action, not the person.
  2. Make criticism specific. Not “You always miss deadlines;” But: “You missed the March 15 deadline for your report.”
  3. Be sure the behavior you are criticizing can be changed.  Foreign accents, baldness, and other things tangentially related to some business dealings cannot always be changed.
  4. Use “I” and “we” to stress that you want to work out the problem together, rather than making threats.
  5. Make sure the other person understand the reason for your criticism.
  6. Don’t belabor the point. Short and sweet; no lectures.
  7. Offer incentives for changed behavior.  Offer to help the person correct the problem.
  8. Don’t set a tone of anger or sarcasm.  Both are counterproductive.
  9. Show the person you understand his or her feelings.
  10. If you are putting your criticism in writing, cool off before writing the critical letter or memo. Be sure only the person it is intended for sees it.
  11. Start off by saying something good.
  12. At the end, reaffirm your support and confidence in the person.

Source: Highlights, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan.

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