A common mistake people make while delivering criticism is serving to alienate the person they are critiquing. Making the people you criticize feel alone in a puddle of their mistakes is not an effective way of teaching a lesson. Allowing someone to feel alone with their mistakes discourages them from making the changes needed to move forward. It can serve to depress someone who was hopeful about their progress prior to your intervention, and more importantly, it serves to ruin their perception of you as a mentor.
This article hopes to shed light on what it looks like to alienate someone who you’re critiquing, why alienating the people you critique is a bad idea, and what to do in order to avoid alienating these people.
Unique Incident vs a Common Occurrence
Alienating the people you criticize means making them feel like they’re the only person to have ever made the mistake in question. When we make mistakes, it often feels like everyone around us is better than we are, and sometimes it is difficult to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. When the mistakes we make are pointed out by someone else, there is a lonesome aspect to acknowledging and attempting to mitigate the error we’ve made. The people around us seem as if their beds are always made, and their clothes are always folded when our mistakes are brought to light.
When delivering criticism, ensure that you cater to the lonesome feelings of your subject, and act to lessen intensity of those feelings. Acknowledge that even though it may feel like a lonesome venture, their mistake has been made by countless people prior. Make them feel as if their mistakes are a common occurrence, even if they’re not. Common mistakes are less scary. They’re easier to accept and overcome, as perception plays a large role in the acceptance and correction of the mistakes we make.
There is little upside in making someone feel unique surrounding the mistakes they’ve made. We want to be special with our successes, but average with our mistakes. We feel better when others have been victims of the same pitfalls into which we fall. Make it easier for the people you critique to dust themselves off and get back on the journey toward improvement by showing them that many others have been able to do the same prior to them.
Comparison Is the Driver of Change
Competition is an effective driver of improvement. Giving the people you criticize someone else to compare their mistakes and solutions to, will serve to provide a goal for them to work toward. Though we may like when others make the same mistakes we do, we also like being better than those same people at correcting these mistakes. Motivate the people you criticize to correct their mistakes better and faster than the competition who has made the same mistake. Allow them to feel a sense of victory in mitigating their mistake by making it a game to win over others who’ve made the same mistake.
Should you serve to make the person you’re critiquing feel alone in the errors they’ve made, they would have no immediate goal to reach for, or examples to follow. They’d have nobody to compete against while correcting those mistakes. They will be lost, and will not have a path to follow toward improvement. Their trust in you will falter too, as they begin to see you as someone who serves to demotivate them, rather than coach them to be better than others who’ve made the same mistake.
Get into a habit of making the people you critique believe that the mistakes they make are common ones. Always steer those who feel alone in their shortcomings toward feeling as if they’re a part of the common crowd. Cater to their desire to be among others who’ve experienced the same failures and then overcame them. Doing so will help your pupils get back on track quicker while doing so with a healthier level of motivation.
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