Advertising
Advertising

The Art of Criticizing to Make People Love You But Not Hate You

The Art of Criticizing to Make People Love You But Not Hate You

It’s hard for anyone to take criticism. If you asked for it, you essentially opened yourself up to negative remarks about your attitude, lifestyle or something you created. If you didn’t ask for the criticism, like in the case of an intervention, it’s even tougher to hear things about yourself that need improving. It’s never easy to give that kind of feedback, but there are plenty of ways to lighten things up a bit. Here are nine things you can do to deliver criticism that will make people more likely to love you than hate you.

1. Plan ahead.

The time and place criticism is shared plays a big part in how well it’s received. Be sure to give feedback to someone in a place that they’re already at least fairly comfortable at. Interventions are usually held in the subject of the intervention’s home, for instance. It might be better to do it somewhere less familiar, though, so that they’re not reminded of their faults every time they come home after a long day’s work. A friend’s place may be a good location. Ultimately, though, the best spot comes down to the individual’s specific circumstances.

Advertising

2. Be pragmatic.

Criticism often produces an emotional reaction from the criticized, but try not to show too much emotion yourself. Say what it is you need to say without breaking down, or the subject of criticism might feel guilty that they’re making you upset or angry.

3. Be empathetic.

While being pragmatic, you should also demonstrate that you really care about the subject of criticism. Smile and use warm body language to signify that you’re on their side.

Advertising

4. Be specific.

Dancing around the real problems won’t help anyone. In your criticism be sure to mention specific things the subject has done so that your friend, family member or peer understands what effect they’ve had on you and others.

5. Focus on improvement.

The whole point of criticism is to help somebody improve, so be sure to focus on things the subject can do to become a better person or artist. So give them some ideas for ways to improve, but at the same time—

Advertising

6. Don’t solve their problem for them.

The subject of criticism has to come to some sorts of conclusions of their own after you deliver your feedback. If you tell them everything they have to do to get better without leaving them any leeway to find their own road to self-improvement, they won’t travel far before reverting back to old ways.

7. Know when enough’s enough.

It’s understandable that you want to explain to someone everything they need to improve at, but a good critic knows when they’ve told the subject of criticism everything they’ll be able to absorb in one sitting. If your friend wrote a bad screenplay, don’t nitpick everything you don’t like about the script. If your sibling is struggling with addiction, avoid pointing out every instance that addiction has worsened their life. Hit the important notes, and plan to work on the rest with them later.

Advertising

8. End with something positive.

Remind the subject of criticism why they’re so special and worth the time you’re spending on them. It might be beneficial to change the subject somewhat to spin the conversation towards why that person is great instead of where that person’s failed.

9. Follow up.

A lot of people think criticism ends once you share your feedback. This is a pretty dangerous assumption. The subject will probably feel fragile after hearing what you and others felt the need to share, so you need to monitor them and ensure that they’re actually taking steps to improve their life. The criticizing itself is hard, but you have to remember that it’s only the first step in a longer path to improvement.

Featured photo credit: Simo Järvinen via flickr.com

More by this author

Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive? The 10 Best Online Dictionaries 15 Easy Ways For Everyone To Make Money With Social Media 7 Ways To Give Great Feedback This Is What The Cozy Home Designed By 2000 People Looks Like

Trending in Communication

1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next