Leader Volume 10, Number 2
Taming of the Critic
Hathaway helps organizations manage change. She is author of three
books including Untying the
ĎNotsí of Change Before Youíre Fit to be Tied
(Destination Publications, Westerville, OH, 2000).
She can be reached at 1-800-339-0973 or www.thechangeagent.com.
When it comes to
criticism, most people think it's more blessed to give criticism
than to take it, especially if the criticism comes from a
difficult person who also happens to be your customer. What are
some effective ways you can handle those tough to handle critical
technique is ideal for dealing with unjustified
this type of criticism comes in the form of advice (sometimes both
unwarranted and unasked for!).
An example might be a co-worker who overhears you on the
phone with a customer and says, "Boy, I just overheard you on
the phone with that customer.
I don't think I would have said that."
are two ways to respond to that co-worker:
(1) We could become quiet and mumble, admitting that we
were wrong (a passive approach); or (2) we could tell that person
where they could go with their opinion (the aggressive route - a
favorite with many). A
far better approach would be to utilize the assertive fogging
technique which calmly acknowledges that there may be some truth
in the criticism.
For the previous
criticism of your coworker, you could fog them by saying,
"Perhaps I could have responded to that customer
don't say to the critic that they are absolutely right and you
don't tell them they are absolutely wrong.
You merely agree that there may be some
truth in the statement. Other
potential fogging responses might be:
You might be right about...You could be right about...What
you say makes sense....
When you are
given valid criticism, the best thing to do is to admit the truth.
That is, accept your mistakes and faults without
over-apologizing for them. Too
often when we make a mistake we try and cover it up. Perhaps the root of coverups lie in our childhood of getting
"caught" and our fear of punishment.
But in reality, the best thing we can do is to admit we
made a mistake and move to the future.
Potential phrases might include:
You're right, I didn't....You're right.
I did do that incorrectly.
Now that I know the correct way to do it... When it comes
to customer service, most customers love the words, "Iím
vague criticism is sometimes the most difficult and frustrating. In these cases, it is important to request specific feedback.
You want to prompt criticism by listening to your critic
and asking questions. Some examples are: What
did I do that... How could I improve... What am I doing
of these questions will force your critic to be more clear in
their criticism and will enable you to change behavior to more
effectively meet their expectations or needs.
The bottom line
in handling criticism is to learn how to build a firm foundation
out of the bricks that others throw at them.
That is what handling criticism effectively can do for
you...it can help you build a foundation of mutual respect rather
than a barrier for protection.