Criticism: To Give Or Not To Give?

Providing criticism can be a useful tool for supervisors, but the way in which you approach criticism will make all the difference in how it is received. Many people don’t handle criticism well. As a supervisor you need to offer feedback and help employees improve but need to do so in a way that won’t put them on the defense.

In Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” he states, “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism in dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment… When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Dale Carnegie goes on with example after example of leaders choosing not to be critical or at least not expressing their criticism to others. Often we are critical because someone isn’t doing a task or project the way we would and we think that our way is the best and only way but the truth is there are many ways to get the same results.

If you criticize out of frustration or to intentionally hurt someone chances are they will resent you and their productivity will decrease causing additional problems. We’ve all encountered criticism that we felt was unjustified and invalid. In these instances, criticism did not help job performance improve; on the contrary, our job performance suffered from the subsequent anger and bitterness we experienced.

Obviously, it would be difficult to never criticize or offer some form of feedback. Constructive criticism can help employees improve and expose blind spots in their performance. However, it is imperative that you offer your input in a kind and positive manner. Never criticize the person directly but focus on the task that needs improvement.

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