Correct Without Being Critical.
Criticism must be made in private: If you want your criticism to take effect, you must not engage the other person’s ego against you. The mildest form of criticism made in the presence of others is very likely to be resented by the other person.
Preface criticism with a kind word or compliment: Kind words, compliments, and praise have the effect of setting the stage in a friendly atmosphere. It serves notice on the other fellow that you are not attacking his ego, and puts him more at his ease.
Praise and compliments open the other person’s mind: “I know from past experience that you are always looking for little ways to constantly improve your work. It occurred to me that…”
- Make the criticism impersonal: Criticize the act, not the person. After all, it’s his actions that you are interested in anyway. Deal with the faults of others as gently as you do with your own.
- Supply the answer: When you tell the other person what he did wrong, also tell him how to do it right. The emphasis should not be on the mistake, but the means and ways to correct the mistake and avoid a recurrence. Nothing can lower morale in an office, plant, or home quite so much as an atmosphere of general dissatisfaction without there being any clear defining of just what is expected. Most people are anxious to “do right” if you tell them what “right” is.
- Ask for cooperation, don’t demand it: Asking always brings more cooperation than demanding. When you demand, you place the other fellow in the role of slave and yourself in the role of slave driver. When you ask, you place him in the role of a member of your team. Team feeling gets much more cooperation than force.
- One criticism to an offense: To call attention to a given error one time is justified. Twice is unnecessary. And three times is nagging. Remember your goal in criticism “TO GET A JOB DONE!”
- Finish in a friendly fashion: Until an issue has been resolved on a friendly note, it really hasn’t been finished. Don’t leave things hanging in air, to be brought up later. Give the other fellow a pat on the back at the end of the conversation. Let his last memory of the meeting be the pat on the back, instead of a kick in the pants.
- Formula for tact:
Be brief, politely.
Be aggressive, smilingly.
Be emphatic, pleasantly.
Be positive, diplomatically.
Be right, graciously.