Sometimes, when we are leading, teaching or coaching, we face situations where the temptation to blast a person is almost overwhelming. We want to say things like, “You’ve got to be kidding! What were you thinking?” or “Have you lost your mind? What planet are you from?” I am not sure why we think verbal abuse will somehow help the person do better. I know I don’t like to be belittled, and I am pretty sure others don’t either.
It seems to me the driving question should be: Will this person benefit from what I say? Perhaps the person will become less coachable as a result of my words. While I do believe it is essential that I am honest, there is a fine line between honest critique and criticism. In reviewing performance, areas of strengths and weaknesses will be revealed—that exposure should be followed by encouragement to build on the strengths and to continue strategies for improving the weaknesses. When we criticize, we typically point out a person’s shortcomings, often in a manner which brings with it the sting of embarrassment. It is important to remember that our frustration with another’s performance does not give us license to be verbally abusive.
I think those of us in TOPS have been the brunt of negative criticism more than once and have used food to handle the hurt we have felt when such remarks rain down upon us. Knowing how hard such remarks hurt and what the results may be, give us the wonderful strength of empathy to build upon. Ridicule, embarrassment and enabling have no place in our organization. Empowerment, praise and understanding rule.
Let’s practice learning to hold our tongue when we are frustrated with a perceived lack of progress. Count to ten (or 20 or 30). Take several deep breaths. Take a moment to decide whether your words will be helpful…or hurtful. Honest critiquing, accompanied by assistance in developing strategies for improvement, will be of great benefit to your team members. Asking if someone lost his/her mind…..not so much!
I Care, Barb