Wednesday, November 4, 2015

BarbedPraise

One of the techniques of supervision is to soften the blow of critical feedback by sandwiching it between elements of praise.

Most of us have probably been a victim of such disingenuous connivery.  As soon as the first lines of positive feedback come our way we begin to feel the tension, to expect the barb, to steel ourselves against the expected negative critique (often called "constructive criticism").  The defense shields go up.

To complete the loop, the person offering the negative feedback (often the boss) then tries to soothe the pain by applying the balm of more positive feedback.

Most of us also remember only the negative ("constructive") criticism that came to us through the exchange.

Since none of us receive negative criticism all that well (a fact grounded in research), why not simply offers lots of positive feedback to others?  The kind that is real, legitimate, authentic, and springs from our actually noticing the good stuff they've done.  

Leaders would do well to skip the negative critiques unless/until we're asked for "constructive criticism."  When it is requested, deliver it gently and in the form of opening a dialogue about how we get better, on purpose, everyday.

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