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Archive for June, 2013

The End of Criticism at Work

Imagine a work environment with no negativity-
No complaining.
No blaming.
No judging.
No nagging.
No criticizing
Imagine a world where employees and bosses told each other what they wanted not what they didn’t like.
Imagine people talking to each other and not about each other.
Imagine how that would affect morale and productivity.

Sound like pie in the sky?
Maybe, but it can be done.
It’s involves examining why we criticize, the problems that are created, and what we can do to affect change.

Why are People So Critical?
What’s the matter with us?
Don’t we know criticism is not the way to get our needs met?
Well yes and no.
Intellectually we know that criticism is not a good idea but emotionally and reactively we seem drawn to it.
The reason is simple.
Once upon a time it worked.
When we were in the crib and needed something what did we do?
We screamed at people.
And what did they do in response?
They ran around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure out what we needed.
And until they guessed the right way to meet our needs the screaming continued.
So a very primitive part of our brain hardwired a message.
To get what you want pitch a fit.
Fast-forward 20-30 years and meet the adult criticism.
If I criticize you and don’t get my needs met that’s I sign I need to criticize you more!

The Problem
It’s very simple.
Criticism as a communication tool doesn’t work.
It tells the other person there is something wrong with them, that they are less than we are, that they are bad.
(Maybe that’s not the intent but that’s the message.)
Criticism is also random and unpredictable and unpredictability creates a lack of safety.
When people are unsafe they do one of two things to regulate their anxiety.
They either act out or they withdraw.
Neither approach is a very effective way to communicate or problem solve.
The other problem with criticism is the confusion it creates.
Human beings, it seems, have a nasty habit of trying to communicate what they want by communicating what they don’t like.
If everyone just wanted the opposite of what they dislike that wouldn’t be such a problem.
Unfortunately that’s not the case so criticism often leaves people unsure of what’s actually expected of them.
It’s just not an effective way to get things done.

Beginning to Solve the Problem
The solution lies in realizing the problem.
The problem is the impact criticism has on the way we communicate.
And the way we communicate lies in our ability to connect.
Good communication it seems is a by-product of connection.
When we feel connected we give others the benefit of the doubt.
We listen better.
Connection makes great communication possible.
To connect you must feel safe.
Safety is a by-product of predictability
Criticism creates unpredictability and as a result your coworker and/or you feel unsafe.
For connection to exist criticism must be eliminated.
That means eliminating all criticism in our words, gestures and tone of voice.
This will create a “space between” you and other people.
Fill that space with regular appreciations.
Do that and people will want to work with you.

Bottom Line
Eliminate all criticism.
(Yes, even “constructive “criticism)
Replace it with regular appreciations.
That will create safety.
Which will assure connection.
Great Communication and a great, sustainable working relationship.

In the next few weeks and months I will be rolling this concept out to many of my client companies.
I will be teaching people the steps they need to take to assure criticism stays out of their conversations.
In future articles I’ll share their progress.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488