Leadership Skills: Try Feedback In Place of Criticism

“Constructive” criticism is still criticism. Instead of criticizing, “feed back” your responses with compassion.

A huge block to giving others feedback effectively is our addiction to criticizing (i.e., providing criticism).

When we criticize, our tonality (if not our words) assigns others to a potentially harmful status of being — i.e., being “wrong.”

No one likes to be labeled as being “wrong.” Most people get defensive when they’re labeled, even when they’re sure they’re not “wrong.” And people feel defensive, they block messages.

So, unless you’re trying to not be understood, criticism is less than effective as a communication strategy.

And, it doesn’t help to call it “constructive” criticism by saying, “This is for your own development….” Criticism is criticism. It blocks understanding.

So what replaces “constructive criticism” for the responsible team member? Compassionate revelation (i.e. telling your truth with compassion) is quite effective.

Compassionate revelation is the essence of feedback. It’s the process of pointing out the consequences of someone’s actions on you or someone else.

My dictionary defines feedback as “the return of part of the output of a system to its input.” This is exactly what we do when we feed the consequences of someone’s actions back to them.

Now, with this distinction in mind, step your way through the 7-Step Feedback Process and see if it isn’t easier to apply.

This Week’s 5-Minute Practice Tip

Notice when you begin to assign someone the condition of being “wrong” and remain silent until you can compassionately feed back to the person the results of their behavior on you or your teammates.

Hint: Criticism usually includes phrases like, “You are (favorite judgement here)” or “This is (favorite judgement here).” Feedback includes phrases such as “When you (specific action here), I (your response here).”

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. Build a responsible team (or family) and master your leadership skills with The Leadership Gift Program for Leaders.

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