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How to Handle Difficult People and Give Constructive Criticism

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Posted 19 April 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with the training of your team leaders and managers.

How to handle difficult people and give constructive criticism

Everyone makes mistakes.
Nobody knows it all.
But you might know people who believe that they are incapable of error; that they cannot be taught anything.
They hate to be corrected.

We have a problem!

How can you best give constructive criticism to those people who don't want to hear it?
How can you give constructive criticism to those people who take all criticism as an insult?

Here are the steps that will help you to handle those pesky, difficult people.

Step One: Know your purpose

Know what you want from this communication.

  • Are you speaking to the person primarily, in order to assert your dominance? - No
  • Are you speaking to the person primarily, in order to find out why he did it? - No
  • Are you speaking to the person primarily, in order to let him know how he makes you feel?

- No way!

Then why (for what purpose) are you speaking?

It is in order to change their future behaviour.
You are not speaking to her, in order to win the argument, blow off steam, or discover her motives for acting in the way she did.

You are speaking in order to change her future behaviour.

  1. Everything you say should be in accordance with that goal.
  2. Nothing you say should be contrary to that goal.

Step Two: NAME the BEHAVIOUR that you do NOT want

Tell the person what he/she is doing "wrong".

Say it using factual, not emotive language.

Examples

  1. You are 20 minutes late.
  2. You have a spelling error on that page, on the second line down.
  3. You are wearing a Homer Simpson tie and you are a sales person.
  4. You are late back from lunch. That's three times in succession you have done that.

Be objective, not subjective.
Be specific, not vague.

Step Three: Tell them what would be "right"

Without a pause, immediately tell the person what would be "right" in this situation. Give them the best way out.

Be objective
Be Reasonable

Start with the phrase:

"In future would you please.................."

  1. "In future would you please.................Be on time for meetings"
  2. "In future would you please.................Check the spelling before you submit it?"
  3. "In future would you please.................Wear a standard design tie when on a sales call for our company?"
  4. "In future would you please.................Be back from lunch within the 50 minutes?

Step Four: Ask them to commit

Can they make the change from the wrong behaviour to the right?
If yes, say "thanks".
If no, ask "why not?"

Step Five: Listen to their explanation and then: Decide!

Decide whether what you are hearing is a:
Reason (logical, true, factual, valid, reasonable, unavoidable) or
Only an Excuse, (Illogical, untrue, invalid, unreasonable, avoidable).
Distinguish between a reason and an excuse for not doing something.
Eliminate the concept of "reasonable excuse" from your mind.
The concept of "reasonable excuse" is a contradiction in terms.
Destroy it!

You should categorise their explanation as either:

  1. A reason or
  2. An excuse

If you think it is an excuse then use the magic phrase
"I understand BLANK but the fact is WRONG BOX "

Example:

You are late back from lunch. That's three times in succession you have done that.

"In future would you please..................Be back from lunch within the 50 minutes?"

He says: "Why are you picking on me? I am not the only one who is late back."

Then you use the magic phrase

"I understand BLANK but the fact is WRONG BOX "

"I understand you are not the only one who is late back ; but the fact is ....... You are late back from lunch and it is the third time in succession.

"In future would you please..................Be back from lunch within the 50 minutes?

Step Six: Press on

Your goal is to press on until you obtain either a

  1. Commitment to change or a
  2. Very good reason why they cannot change

WARNING:

Do not give compromise concessions to those people who offer you only excuses.

If they change then take step seven..........

Step Seven: Give them appreciation and Thanks

Thank those who do commit to a positive change.

Then, leave on an agreement.
A final note on the need to give appreciation and praise
Appreciation for good work is essential but often forgotten
Tell them when they have done it right.
Do not wait. Do it now.
Use achievement to build the self-esteem.
Ask for more of the same.
Appreciation is cheap and easy to give
Appreciative words are a major motivator - and they are totally free, without cost. Free!
But failing to give Appreciation WILL cost you very dearly.

Remember this

  1. Appreciative comments are free to give.
  2. Appreciative comments are costly NOT to give.

So dish out the appreciative comments, liberally.
Make the following phrase one of your best speech habits,
"Thank you very much. I appreciate it!"

Humans!

They are endlessly complex beings, aren't they?
It takes a minimum of 200 years to learn how to handle them properly.

For more information about how to handle difficult people training visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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