Business Negotiation July 30, 2014

Criticism and its Negative Effects

As managers, peers or supervisors, we are often placed in the position of taking exception to how or what another person or subordinate is doing.   It is not a pleasant role, one that if poorly handled can reap havoc with any relationship, even a good one...

As managers, peers or supervisors, we are often placed in the position of taking exception to how or what another person or subordinate is doing.  It is not a pleasant role, one that if poorly handled can reap havoc with any relationship, even a good one.

Most managers see criticism as a necessary part of their job responsibility in getting what needs to be done completed within designated quality, time and cost standards.  What they wish to do is encourage subordinates or other to do the work in a better manner or to rid themselves of a certain dysfunctional habit that impedes their effectiveness.  They generally do not wish to punish the person criticized, but instead view their action as constructive and appropriate.

Some people criticize for unconstructive purposes.  They seek not to improve but to raise their own self-respect at the expense of another.  By finding fault or lashing out in anger at imperfections, they strive to establish their own dominance or superiority.  I have even attended professional conferences where people criticized other professionals by pointing out petty errors in their reasoning or analysis for no reason but to look good.  Criticism for these purposes is never constructive, guaranteed to do more harm than good to both recipient and sender.

Whatever the reason, well-intended or not, there is far more criticism at work than need be.  Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticized.  Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded.

Yet, we are left with a paradox. On the one hand criticism is ineffective, if not harmful.  On the other hand, some criticism at work is certainly part of the habitual interaction of managers and subordinates everywhere.  People at work do indeed fail to follow directions or make mistakes and need guidance in doing work correctly.

The trouble is that, as managers, we may unintentionally provide negative feedback to another eve when we try to help them change as carefully as possible. For reasons beyond our control, the other may interpret our best intentions as faultfinding and resent both message and messenger.  Constructive criticism that minimizes resentment is a difficult act to balance.
Upcoming seminars
Effective Negotiating
Effective Negotiating
Effective Negotiating
Effective Consensus: Negotiating with Co-Workers and Teams
Search for seminars near you
June 04, 2020

Success in negotiation starts with understanding what kind of negotiation you are dealing with. Fundamentally, every negotiation is fundamentally about finding and distributing value...

Read More Group 7
April 06, 2020

Use this article as a guide to help you think in new ways to renegotiate for better contracts and stronger partnerships, whether in business or in life. Never be afraid of sitting down at the table to set new terms...

Read More Group 7
January 12, 2020

Happy Holidays to you and yours! Chances are very good that you had to negotiate with at least a few people to figure out what your holiday plans would be this holiday season, and chances are good that it didn’t all go perfectly smoothly. If you are all still on speaking terms, that’s probably because you utilized some of your best conflict resolution tools...

Read More Group 7