There is an art to offering criticism isn’t there? One way is a downer, making someone feel like they’ve failed. The other way is life-giving, weighing in with constructive advice.
Last week after our Love Your Life event in NYC, I got an anonymous email that illustrates this. Rather than ask me what our goals were for the event (goals I spent months on, planning and praying over in order to be strategic), the sender told me how disappointed she was over certain elements.
Now I love feedback, I really do, as it helps you improve and meet needs with greater accuracy. But the way this person shared her feedback came across as immature and uninformed. Rather than ask what my goals were, she pointed out what they should have been. The fact she was anonymous, giving no opportunity for dialogue, made me disregard her input even more. Good rule of thumb: If I’m not confident enough giving my name, I should rethink giving my input.
Asking questions first is a great way to be heard and offer motivating input. Simple questions like, “What are you hoping to achieve? What prompted this strategy? How can I help?” open the door to effective exchange, while esteeming others in the process.
I’ve come to these conclusions doing it the wrong way many times. I’m a quick critic and love to give opinions, but have concluded that if I don’t do so in a way that makes the other person want to listen, why offer it?
We all need to do a lot more asking and listening, than criticizing and instructing. Constructive criticism is an art, one worth practicing. Others DO need your opinions, in the right time and in the right way.