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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tips for Giving Effective Constructive Criticism


In my previous post, "Giving Effective Constructive Criticism", we looked at some of the potential problems that could occur when giving criticism.

In this post, we will be trying to avoid these problems by exploring some tips as to how we can give effective constructive criticism.

Tips on Giving Effective Criticism

Criticize as Soon as Possible

This may initially sound rather contradictory to some. We have learn that criticisms may result in problems, so why then should we be quick to criticize?

Well, this is because criticism, like praise, is most effective when it is delivered close to the event. The earlier the criticism is delivered, the more effective it will be.

When employing this tactic, however, it is imperative to remember to separate your emotions from your criticism and to offer objective criticism to the other person. Also, remember to avoid criticizing anyone in front of other people as this seriously wounds a person's precious pride.

Be Specific in Your Criticism

Another recommended method in giving effective criticism is to be specific.

When you become more specific, your criticism will naturally become more objective and less emotional. Words become more quantifiable as a result, and less prone to gross generalizations that could occur in the heat of the moment.

Be Certain of the Facts

In the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", Dale Carnegie suggests "I may be wrong but let's examine the facts". When you criticize or accuse somebody about something, it is imperative that you are sure of exactly what you are talking about.

There may be situations that exist where you might not be aware of. Thus, you should allow and give the other person the opportunity to explain his or herself.

When the person is trying to explain the situation, your body language should also reflect a open and receptive attitude towards his explaination.

Focus on the Positives

Even when you must criticize, try to focus on the positives. Do try to include or suggest ways on how the other person can improve instead of just listing down the other person's bad points.

Before you do criticize, try out this simple step.

Think of 3 positive aspects about the thing in which you intend to criticize before you actually verbalize it. You will find that often times, there is so much good being overlooked and we only focus on the infinitesimally small negative qualities.

In addition, maintain a positive body language to try to balance out the negatively of the situation. The more positively you handle the situation, the better the other person will feel about it and hence, this will increase your chances of success in trying to influence the other person's behavior.

In conclusion, if you do have to criticize, give constructive criticism and give it effectively. Giving constructive criticism helps to improve the other person by providing a valuable source of objective feedback which helps the other person to improve .

Do remember to consider the other person's feelings in all of your dealings and spread positivity whereever you go!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Giving Effective Constructive Criticism

One of my previous posts, "Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain", I advocated the principle of doing away with criticism altogether.

Unexpectedly, this fundamental principle of good human relations drew a wide range of comments.

CK from A Singaporean in London commented: 'Real friends tell you what's wrong.'

Should good friends seek to criticize each other constructively when necessary? Or should they remain good friends by remaining silent?

Patricia Rockwell, a communications teacher with over 40 years of experience in the field, left this excellent comment:

"You can get that constructive criticism across to a friend without being negative yourself. Just couch your ideas as suggestions and keep it positive. What you are suggesting is an idea to help a fantastic person become even more fantastic!"

Giving praise is indeed an extremely powerful tool that is able to influence the actions of people. It can indeed help a fantastic person become even more fantastic!

Occasionally, there is a need to correct certain inappropriate or unacceptable behavior. But this brings forth certain pitfalls and difficulties.

Firstly, let us look at some problems when it comes to giving criticism.

Problem 1) - Few people enjoy being criticised or reprimanded. This invokes negative experiences as well as downbeat feelings. Such feelings inhibit positive behavior.

Problem 2) - Criticism often exaggerate negative situations in order to make a point.

For example: Occasional neglect to a wife or girlfriend might come out as "You never care about me!" This may trigger sparks of resentment that could ripple on for a lifetime.

Having explored the problems with criticism, do check out for my next post, "Tips for Giving Effective Constructive Criticism", which will look at some ways in which we can give effective criticisms.

Do remember to bookmark this post if you've enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Technology's Effect on Interpersonal Communication

Technology has brought forth a revolutionary transformation in the way we communicate with each other.

As we progress through the information age, various technological devices such as the television, hand phones, and personal computers have come and established themselves in our everyday lives.

This has definitely influenced interpersonal communication in many ways, both positive as well as negative.

This article examines the
impacts and implications of technology on the way we communicate with each other.

With the invent of internet, the world has effectively become an interconnected global village. People from all corners of the world are able to easily converse with each other quickly and easily through cyberspace.

Email has established itself as a fast, free and convenient method to send messages, replacing traditional mail in the process. The internet has indeed made it easy and convenient for people to keep in touch with one another.

This ease of communication has many profound effects. In the business world, deals can be made through emails and video conferencing, and mobile phone technology has made it possible for people to check and send messages on the go, allowing us to be connected 24-7.

The internet has also affected the way how couples are formed. Couples are now commonly paired through dating websites using computer match ups. Chat rooms have become a common form of interaction between people as well, replacing a face-to-face meet up.

The internet has indeed changed the way people socialize. Although this has broadened the social circle of many people somewhat, couples are unable to meet face to face and this has many implications. Each individual has only the information which the other person decides to release. This may cause both parties to have unrealistic expectations about each other.

In the office, despite all the advantages offered by technology as mentioned earlier, there are many negative implications to be considered as well. Simple messages which used to be delivered face-to-face are now being sent through impersonal means such as email.

This has effectively reduced socialization within the office, thus contributing to the weakening of bonds within the workplace.

In addition, the convenience of emails and video conferences, just cannot entirely replace the feeling and warmth of a person's handshake or presence. Deals may be negotiated through emails, but many businessmen today will still want to view their business partners face-to-face in order to size their potential partners up before committing to any deals.

According to government figures from the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom, on average, adults in Britain spend - 41.5 days a year online at their computers. Bloggers whom are increasingly common today probably spend lots more time online.

This has reduced the communication between parents and their children due to the lack of quality time spend together. The bond is weakened as compared with previous generations and this has a profound impact on society as a whole.

In conclusion, we are now more connected in today's globalized world, but are ironically more isolated from our friends and family as a result of the new technologies from the information age.

The ease of communication
may have been improved but our lives have become more impersonal as a result. Technology has indeed made tremendous impact on society as well as on interpersonal communication.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

This post talks about the simple, yet effective principle of: "Giving Honest and Sincere Appreciation"...

... and is the second principle listed within the category of "Fundamental Techniques in Handling People" as mentioned in Dale Carnegie's best selling book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

I'm about to reveal something that is a fundamental, yet little known truth of human behavior. This fact is that everybody, from the lowest peasant to the mightiest of emperors, seeks to obtain a feeling of importance.

Athletes strive so hard for victory as they seek the feeling of importance at being the best at what they do.

Employees work so hard to get promoted as they seek the feeling of importance and recognition for their contribution.

Some people get their sense of importance from earning a lot of money while others get their sense of importance from things such as charity work and donations.

So, you might be wondering, how does the fact that everybody seeks a feeling of importance factor into our principle of "Giving Honest and Sincere Appreciation"?

In a nutshell, give people the praise that they deserve and crave for (in order satisfy an individual's need to feel important), and you will find that the world will be a much easier and friendlier place to live in.

Note that what this principle advocates is NOT flattery.

Universally despised act of flattery is defined as giving a person excessive or insincere praise. However, what is advocated here in this post is to "Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation".

For example, say thank you when someone does something nice for you. Make a special mention when somebody makes a special effort to dress up or does something for you.

Everybody likes to be appreciated. How often have you heard this phase. "So-and-so does not appreciate me."

The simple act of giving honest and sincere appreciation does indeed work wonders. Why don't you go ahead and try it right know and show some appreciation to a loved one.

Do leave a comment to share how it works out for you.

If you enjoyed this post, do bookmark this post or subscribe to this blog. Appreciate it... :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain

Interested to learn about a basic fundamental principle for good human relations? Want a simple and effective method to improve your interpersonal relationships?

This post talks about the simple, yet effective principle of: "Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain"

This is the first principle listed within the category of "Fundamental Techniques in Handling People" as mentioned in Dale Carnegie's best selling book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

So what does it entail? Simple, it is exactly what it says it is. Do not criticize, condemn or complain. Simple and easy. No encrypted message, no hidden meanings. Just refrain from criticizing, condeming or complaining.

Why is this technique so effective in interpersonal relationships?

You may feel that the other person has done something wrong, but the reality is; people never blame themselves for anything. As a result, we tend to get defensive when blamed or criticized for something.

Take for instance lets say that you lost your wallet. A concerned friend or family member might say something like, "Why are you so careless? Can't you be more careful?"

Such a remark criticizing the action of losing the wallet, even though it was made out of concern, generally will have a negative effect on the receiving party.

A person, when criticized, may seek to justify himself and may respond defensively in a manner such as "Do you think i want to lose my wallet?" or "People lose things all the time, you are no different."

This exercise shows us how criticism, even made out of a spirit of care and concern, may lead to defensive responses or even misunderstandings.

If something so gentle can turn out so wrong, imagine the negative effect of criticisms, made in the heat of anger must have on a person. The same truths hold for both condemnation as well as complaining.

As Dale Carnegie so eloquently put it: "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving."

So the next time you see something that you don't like, do refrain from criticism and seek to be more understanding and forgiving towards the other person.

If you are interested, you can check out my post about "Winning Friends and Influencing People."

Similarly, if you have enjoyed this post, do bookmark this post or subscribe to this blog. Thanks... :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How to Win Friends and Influence People

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving." -- Dale Carnegie

You've probably heard of the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnege.

After all, it has sold 15 million copies globally since it was first published in 1937, influencing an entire generation of self help books.

Something that is so successful has to contain something special.

As such, here is a summary of Dale Carnege's book entitled
"How to Win Friends and Influence People"

Part One
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3.Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part Two
Six ways to make people like you

2. Smile.
3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
6. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

Part Three
Win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.

Part Four
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
5. Let the other person save face.
6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

If you seek tips on improving interpersonal communication skills, this is it! I will be elaborating more about these words of wisdom in future blog posts, so stay tuned.

If you are interested, you can check out Dale Carnegie's book on Amazon here. Alternatively, you may also consider checking out the audiobook version of this book for easy listening from Amazon here.

If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to subscribe or bookmark it! :)