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Last updated on 12/9/20

Learn to accept criticism and master giving and receiving feedback

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Learn to accept criticism

Criticism goes against our desire to be in control and our dream of being all-powerful. However it is expressed, it is most often seen as an attack. It mortifies us and weakens us even if we wear a social mask. We need to learn how to manage it and give ourselves the opportunity to find a solution and progress. 😊

When you are faced with criticism or reproach, use this 4-step assertive defusing technique:

  • See if the criticism is justified: (“I understand that this slows down the whole process”, or “Yes, I realize, I’m sorry”);

  • State what has happened: (I went over the deadline set);

  • Express what you are feeling: “I’m the first person to be embarrassed and penalized for it.”;

  • Enlist the help of a fellow team member: “I’m going to organize myself differently to improve my time management. Can you see anything that would have helped me stick to the deadlines?”

There are three types of criticism and two ways they may be addressed to you. Here’s how to respond to them:

Form of criticism / Manner of criticism

justified criticism

unjustified criticism

vague criticism

Constructively

  • Defusing 1+2+3+4

  • Solution

  • Abide by your commitments

  • 1: “I’m not / I didn’t”, to be repeated calmly as many times as necessary + 4: “Do you know who would be able to help you better than I could?”

  • Seek details: “Can you tell me more? / what is the issue?”

  • Fall back on the “justified” or “unjustified” situations

Fiercely

  • Ditto 1+2+3+4,

  • Solution

    and add 5: demand respect: “I am open to all your comments, and I would ask you to express them calmly/with respect/etc.”

  • Abide by  your commitments

  • 1: “I’m not / I didn’t”, to be repeated calmly as many times as necessary + 4: “Do you know who would be able to help you better than I could?”

  • + 5 “I am open to all your comments, and I would ask you to express them calmly/with respect/etc.”

  • Seek details: “Can you tell me more? / what is the issue?”

  • Fall back on the “justified” or “unjustified” situations

    + 5: “I am open to all your comments, and I would ask you to express them calmly/with respect/etc."

However it has been given, when the criticism is justified, you must then be rigorous and respect your commitments. Assertiveness is neither manipulation nor bluff.

Master giving and receiving feedback

Feedback is not just any kind of criticism. It’s a teamwork communication tool that makes it possible to comment on the progress of the work. The team members need to know if they are on the right track. They must be capable of receiving and giving feedback on:

  • how the action has gone, and

  • whether or not the objective has been achieved.

Receiving feedback

If you know how to receive criticism, you will be all the better able to make the most of feedback.

Giving constructive feedback

Know how to give feedback. This will enable you to receive the feedback you are given and be able to consider it. Feedback must be an operating principle at work, and be given regularly, as:

  • many misunderstandings can be founded on things that are only implied, and

  • occasional concentrated feedback will always be harder to swallow than regular “small” doses of feedback.

Non-constructive feedback de-motivates people and undermines cooperation.

Here are the rules for giving constructive feedback:

1) Take human psychology into account: give regular positive feedback that shows the team member they are on the right track, or just gives them recognition – that’s a fundamental human need:

  • “Well done and thank you!”: thank and congratulate, for example, whenever someone submits a deliverable, when an important task is accomplished, when the person makes noticeable progress, etc.

  • Accompany these thanks/congratulations with a comment about the positive impact of the action performed: “Thank you for your presentation; it was very clear and well-structured. It made the meeting very effective!”

2) When it is necessary to express a criticism:

  • verify that there is an issue; don’t pick up on a minor error, especially when cooperation is just beginning;

  • start with the positive;

  • then express your need: “next time, …”

  • or make a clear, concise recommendation. Don’t make too many remarks – stick to essentials;

  • thank your team member for the corrective actions they are going to be taking.

3) Always give feedback at the time using a neutral or benevolent posture. If you delay giving it, it will seem suspect or will be taken even more harshly.

Watch out for negative tones that can upset people: a “schoolmasterly” or an ironic tone.

4) if you want to balance the relationship, ask regularly for feedback on your own actions and be prepared to receive criticism. If it is clumsy or brutal, thanking the person giving it may soften them up 😊 and allow you to concentrate instead on the content!

5) Give preference to face-to-face meetings when giving critical (and constructive) feedback. Positive feedback can be sent via e-mail.

Summary

  • Optimise your teamwork skills by developing the abilities to deal with criticism and take full advantage of opportunities for receiving constructive feedback.

  • Work effectively on your team by giving constructive feedback that is positive, timely, reciprocal and face-to-face. Deliver criticism skillfully.

Life in a team is not always one long, smooth ride. In the next chapter, learn how to manage difficult personalities and break free from psychological games!

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement