Are you excited about getting unwelcome criticism? Most probably you aren’t. Unfortunately, there are several people around you that are extremely ready to offer you some.
The way in which it works is like this. Somebody says something negative to you. Maybe it is your appearance, your work product, or maybe just some random comment you made. It might be something similar to, “You know those shoes don’t go with that outfit?” Maybe in a meeting it’s a straightforward “That will never work” statement without any farther clarification or amplification.
They spout out something negative and move on or just sit there with a goofy smile on their face.
Let’s call these people, “Drive-by Critics“.
Drive-by Critics take many forms but they have all got one thing particularly in common: they do not regularly offer solutions.
Frankly even well-meaning feedback without a solution is about as convenient as a screen door on a submarine. Worse, this type of “advice” can be especially damaging at work.
Drive-by Critics suppress healthy communication by raising issues or problems without offering a method to overcome the obstacles they themselves have imagined.
An otherwise fascinating debate can be derailed and even stopped brusquely by pessimists continuously ripping down ideas without offering positive solutions. Don’t let them continue with it, at any level.
Begin making a culture change to stop these Drive-by Critics by firing back, “What Do You Advise?”
Never let them get away scot-free with any behavior of this sort. Every sort of accepted behavior, including letting people deliver unwelcome criticism, will become cultural.
The simplest way to deflect unwelcome feedback.
As an example, if someone makes a comment like, “Those shoes don’t match that belt,” here’s what to do.
Smile right at them and as non-sarcastically and non-confrontational as you’re able to and say something like, “Thank you for bringing that up. What do you counsel I should wear next time?”
Make them back up their unwished-for-feedback every time with real positive advice.
In business if someone claims, “That’s a terrible plan. It will never work,” turn right to them with that same acceptable demeanor and ask simply, “Fair enough, what’s your plan?”
Stick to this tack till it is successful and sinks in.
When you have implemented point one above, the step after that is to stick to your guns.
Don’t let them escape with “I haven’t a clue” or a simple “I just know your scheme won’t work.” Make them back it up.
Make them go through the mental gymnastics and articulate their motivation for their statement.
Eventually you can push them to one of two places.
Either they articulate the basis for their critique. That means the confrontation will fundamentally progress to a full awareness of their position doubtless leading to a solution.
Or, they will not back up their statement. Then they must be put on notice, kindly, that their drive-by critique will not be endured in a vacuum and that they will have to be prepared to back it up every time.
Defeatists never build a great business.
Great enterprises are built by the ones with positive perspectives. In your business, you’ve got to provoke positive conversation and deter Drive-by Critics. How?
Hold drive-by critics answerable for their negative perspectives on an organization-wide level.
Create and motivate a culture of open conversation by never allowing any person to shoot an idea down without offering another idea or, at a bare minimum, their basis why that which they are criticizing will not work.
Always respect their perspectives as you are not making an attempt to bully them away from ever speaking. But by asking those simple follow-up questions you can hold them answerable for their thoughts and provoke and keep the dialogues moving in a positive direction.
Stop any pattern of unrequested criticism before it becomes a part of your culture.