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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Taking criticism gracefully

If your manager takes the time to give you feedback, looking petulant and defensive and perhaps even outright pissed off -- as someone did to me last week -- isn't going to help you.

It's not that you just have to sit back and take it if you disagree with the criticism you're hearing; you can say that you have a different point of view. But it's all in how you do it, and it's especially in your tone.

Bad: Looking furious
Good: "I'm glad you're telling me this. From my point of view, I've been letting some deadlines on this project slide because I had thought that projects x and z were higher priorities and was more focused there. But am I looking at this wrong?"

Bad: Getting defensive
Good: "I hadn't realized it was coming across that way, so I'm glad to know. From my perspective, it seems like (fill in the blank with whatever your perspective is)."

Bad: Responding with a brusque "okay" and nothing more (this makes it look like you're more interested in just getting the hell out of your boss' office than in actually processing the feedback)
Good: Telling your boss what you're going to do in response, even if it's just to say you need to give it some thought.

Be glad your manager is giving you feedback. Plenty don't bother and just leave you to wonder why you keep getting crappy raises. The managers who take the time to give you honest feedback are the ones you want (assuming they're not crazy, vindictive, etc.).


Anonymous said...

Take that last comment about "the managers who give you feedback are the ones you want" to heart. Managers who give feedback get better results than those who don't both in terms of goal performance and morale. Even better, though are managers who give legitimate positive feedback.

Evil HR Lady said...

Managers need to be prepared with a specific example before they give feedback, however.

Coming to an employee and saying, "you don't show respect to clients," isn't as helpful as saying, "I've received complaints that it's taking 2-3 days for you to get back with clients. I need you to reduce that time to 24 hours."

That way I know what is expected.

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