When we see someone doing something poorly, what’s our natural inclination?
To tell them what their problem is, of course. How else would they fix it unless we tell them what they’re doing wrong? Advice, “constructive” criticism, unsolicited feedback… these are our defaults. The problem with them is that they almost never work. Few of us are motivated by criticism. We may change behaviors as a result of it, but it’s a change that’s driven by fear.
What’s the alternative? Change and growth that stem from focusing on our strengths and seeing them affirmed.
Watch a short video I recently uploaded onto youtube where I tell the humbling story of how I learned to preach. It really illustrates an important principle: Affirmation is the foundation of change. Consider how this principle might apply with the young leaders you’re trying to develop.
See the positive as well as the negative. Studies show that many people feel criticized, bullied or ostracized more than appreciated at work, and a fair percentage of people leave their place of employment because of such interpersonal problems with supervisors or colleagues. One great practice is to, before your meeting where you’ ll be providing feedback to coworkers (including managers or persons you supervise), is to make a list of things that you really appreciate about the individual with whom you’ ll be sharing feedback. Remember – – positive attributes only, and include at least five on your list. Then, once you’ ve shared your intentions about the meeting, share the “what I really appreciate about you and your work” list before moving on to constructive criticism. You can also wrap the meeting with a recap of positive thoughts.