2 workers shouting at each other with megaphones


Truth over Harmony – 8 steps how to use constructive criticism

April 21st, 2016 - One Comment

One value that we ardently believe in at phamax is truth over harmony’. What does it convey and why is it important in business and while working in a team? There are plenty of situations when it is just easier and more comfortable to avoid or veil the truth, just to maintain a semblance of harmony in an organization or a team. It is not easy to be truthful. It can create conflicts and often hurt somebody’s feelings. So, instead of being straightforward, we skirt the issue, avoid the straight path and let the situation linger.

But, then postponement or not speaking at all can affect the quality of our relationships and the working ambience. Communication is the foundation of any good workplace. Every issue that is not discussed creates distances. Communication becomes difficult because anger and resentment build with time. Sometimes silence may be the way out. But, then something snaps and the last straw breaks the camel’s back. Regretful situations transpire.

Unspoken truth creates uncomfortable situations and the adverse effects are always apparent. All of us have blind spots, as aspects of our behavior, habits or way of working. Often, we may not be aware of them. We recognize them only when someone points them out, and improve and develop ourselves accordingly. Constructive criticism is essential for growth. If truth it dodged, growth is stunted. Our personal growth and the growth of the people around us depends on open and forthright communication.

It is our responsibility to be honest to ourselves. We must be mentally prepared to confront our blind spots and work on it. It is not wrong to make mistakes or fail if there is development or learning involved. Every mistake is a lesson in itself and every challenge is an opportunity to grow. It is also our responsibility to be honest to others. In the same manner that we encourage constructive criticism for ourselves, others should also benefit. But, the imperative question is – How to be constructively critical and help somebody grow without hurting them? The following measures may help:

  1. Identify your motives. Is it really what the other person did wrong or is it something else upsetting you? Do not vent out your emotions on people not responsible for them.
  2. Never act under the influence of emotions. Emotions cloud your judgment. Whether you are upset with something at home or you are unhappy with something at your workplace, do not confront people with these emotions. Take a break, drink a coffee and calm down. Think objectively about the situation. Then you can discuss it.
  3. Do not talk about critical issues openly. Go out for lunch together or arrange a meeting. It shows value to the other person if you take time to clarify all differences.
  4. Do not make personal attacks. This will reduce the likelihood that the recipient of your criticism will respond in a defensive or angry manner. Smile, use warm body language and use the appropriate tone.
  5. Use the Sandwich principle: Start with something positive and end with something positive. Pack the indigestive part in between. This will soften the effect of a negative impact and will also bring some encouragement along the way. It shows the hearer that you are not against them or their work, but that you are on their side, seeing the good they are doing and willing to help them to improve their weak zones.
  6. Focus on the situation, not on the person. Take the person out of the equation and focus your comments on the behavior/action/situation/issue at hand.
  7. Make use of the ‘I’ perspective. Focus on the issue and not the person. The person can then take a step back to evaluate the situation. It also gives him/her insights as to where you are coming from. Do not use language that shows the other person in the wrong light.
  8. Make your feedback helpful & be specific. Give recommendations or helpful advice on how to improve the situation. If we pursue truth, harmony will follow. The quality of our relationships and ultimately work will improve.

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