Can you dish it out? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can you dish it out?

Critique a colleague without damaging either of you

Get PDF file

by on
in Workplace Communication

It’s hard enough to tell an employee that he’s screwing up. But alerting a peer to some defect in his performance can prove even more harrowing.

You don’t have authority over coworkers, and it’s not your job to criticize them. So you may figure it’s best to keep quiet. But left unchecked, their problems can worsen and affect you.

Here’s how to weigh how and when to dish it out to colleagues:

What’s to gain? The three worst ways to criticize a co-worker are to launch a thinly veiled insult, to play know-it-all or to embarrass someone. You’ll make an enemy and lose any chance of influencing that person in the future.

Before you criticize, make sure the benefit outweighs the cost. Ideally, your colleague should be willing and able to apply what you say and do the job better. Then and only then should you proceed.

Can you take the backlash? Even if you think your co-worker will appreciate your unsolicited input and respond well, the repercussions can sting. That same individual may criticize you in return in a less tactful and more hurtful tone. You’ll need a thick skin to withstand it.

Can we talk? Consider timing and setting before you criticize. It’s unwise to blurt out your feedback as you’re racing out the door, leaving the colleague standing there alone to dwell on your comments. And if others overhear, you’ve compounded the mistake.

Set the stage to have a private, relaxed talk free of interruptions. Don’t answer the phone or greet passers-by. Focus on the other person and prepare to invest extra time hearing him out. He may disagree or defend himself rather than “take it.”

Are your intentions good? Only criticize a co-worker if you can honestly say, “I’d want to know the same thing.” If you’re motivated by a need to help— and you speak with fairness and diplomacy— then you increase the odds your colleague will accept your message gracefully.

Related Articles...

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: