Constructive Criticism

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Our topic this week came from Twitter:  How do you inform a personal friend that they frequently speak too loud?

Yes, level of voice and tone are very important parts of effective communication. Research studies at UCLA by Albert Mehrabian show that 38% of our first impression is made by how we use our voice.  Your friend may not realize they are speaking too loudly, which in turn may be sending the wrong message to the people with whom they are communicating.  And of course, how you approach the subject of sharing this information, or constructive criticism, can be a bit tricky.

The goal with constructive criticism is to bring something to someone’s attention to assist him or her in doing better, improving themselves or the situation.  Unfortunately, constructive criticism is usually met with defense.

You can start with the Compliment Sandwich; offering a compliment, then the constructive criticism, followed by a compliment.  This helps to keep the situation positive.  Yes, it may be “sugar coating”, but if it helps the “medicine” to go down, then it does the job.

Make sure to focus on the point, not the person.  It’s the action that you are applying the constructive criticism towards, not the individual.

If the situation allows, add a bit of humor.  By approaching the topic in a light-hearted manner, it usually helps the recipient to be more open to the subject.

And of course how the person responds to the offer of constructive criticism is completely outside of our control.  Keeping in mind, we can’t control what other people do or say, the only thing we can control is how we react.  So know that you are doing the right thing by offering the advice, and hope your friend receives it in the same spirit.

For more on dealing with how others react, here is a previous post on “Hurt Feelings”.

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