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How to Criticise People without Causing Offence

How to Criticise People without Causing Offence
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    In life we often need to criticise the actions of others, yet at the same time it can be a daunting task. Nobody likes being told their are wrong or need correcting. Yet, just because people may not like being criticised, doesn’t mean we can avoid doing it. If we allow people to continue doing the wrong thing, we will just resent their action and inwardly hold it against them. This is not a good situation; however, it is quite possible to criticise others, without making them our permanent enemy. These are some tactful Ways to criticise others:

    1. I have made the same mistake myself.

    This never fails to improve the situation. Even if it is not true, you can soften your criticism by saying things like “I have made the same mistake myself…” “In your situation I would have done the same thing, but…” The reason this works, is that it avoids us developing an air of superiority. What we are saying is yes, you have made a mistake, but you shouldn’t feel bad because others have done so too. A good example is with a new worker. A new worker will be a little nervous and bound to make mistakes; if we have to point out their errors all the time, they will feel bad and lose motivation. However, if we say, that’s a mistake, but an easy one to make, we correct them without making them feel miserable.

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    2. Tone of Voice.

    70% of conversation is through the tone of voice and facial expressions. Words can be an insignificant aspect. If you have to point out a failure in someone’s behaviour, be very careful in how it is expressed.

    Avoid speaking in a tone which expresses, sarcasm, anger, hostility or condescension. As much as possible, speak in a polite, friendly and natural way. This makes a big difference. Even if you feel, the person deserves your anger or sarcasm it will not help to criticise them in this way. If you do, they will react in a negative way. If you criticise in a thoughtful way, they will be much more likely to be sympathetic to your point.

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    3. Smile

    If a colleague has done something to upset us, we find it difficult to criticise without expressing our negative emotions. If this occurs, try smiling before and during your conversation. When we smile it subconsciously defuses tense situations. When we smile, it is easier to relax and create a positive vibration.

    4. Criticise Important Things.

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    Nobody likes a busybody, who will point out every minor infraction. If you criticise people for every small mistake, then, when there is something serious they have already developed an aversion to our critical nature. Be tolerant where possible; if someone does not share your enthusiasm for putting the stapler in EXACTLY the right place – we have to remember this is not a major personality flaw. Maybe it is just easier to live with the stapler being temporarily out of place? :)

    5. Disguise the Criticism.

    If we are very clever we may be able to change someone’s behaviour without actually criticising them. If a work colleague continues to do the wrong thing, try just suggesting the correct way of doing it. Appeal to their positive nature. Suggesting the correct way of doing things involves only implied criticism; but, if it results in people doing the right thing, that is all that matters.

    6. Praise then Criticism.

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    No work colleague is without some good qualities, (we hope). If you have to criticise someone, why not start off by pointing out some of the good things they have been doing. This will put them in a good mood, and therefore they will take the criticism in a much better frame of mind. Obviously we should have some sincerity in our praise, otherwise they will see through our false flattery.

    7. Praise them for doing the right Thing. (even if not true)

    This method is a bit sneaky, but it is worth a try. Suppose somebody is very bad at filling in forms. Make a point of saying to your boss how good the person is at doing this task. If the person hears, they may be shamed into doing the job efficiently. I got this idea from watching an episode of the British Sitcom, Yes Minister; The civil service were refusing to implement the ministers reforms. So the minister went on TV and lavished praise on the civil service for doing an excellent job in implementing these particular reforms as soon as possible. What the minister said was completely false, but because he had praised them on TV, the civil service had to live upto the Ministers’ praise and implement the reforms.

    Tejvan Pettinger works as an Economics teacher in Oxford. In his spare time he enjoys writing on topics of self-improvement, meditation and productivity. He writes a blog on meditation and self improvement called Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. He also gives Meditation Classes on behalf of the Oxford Sri Chinmoy Centre.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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