In life we often need to criticise the actions
of others, yet at the same time it can be a daunting
task. Nobody likes being told their are wrong
or need correcting. Yet, just because people may
not like being criticised, doesn’t mean
we can avoid doing it. If we allow people to continue
doing the wrong thing, we will just resent their
action and inwardly hold it against them. This
is not a good situation; however, it is quite
possible to criticise others, without making them
our permanent enemy. These are some tactful Ways
to criticise others:
1. I have made the same mistake myself.
This never fails to improve the situation. Even
if it is not true, you can soften your criticism
by saying things like “I have made the same
mistake myself…” “In your situation
I would have done the same thing, but…”
The reason this works, is that it avoids us developing
an air of superiority. What we are saying is yes,
you have made a mistake, but you shouldn’t
feel bad because others have done so too. A good
example is with a new worker. A new worker will
be a little nervous and bound to make mistakes;
if we have to point out their errors all the time,
they will feel bad and lose motivation. However,
if we say, that’s a mistake, but an easy
one to make, we correct them without making them
2. Tone of Voice.
70% of conversation is through the tone of voice
and facial expressions. Words can be an insignificant
aspect. If you have to point out a failure in
someone’s behaviour, be very careful in
how it is expressed.
Avoid speaking in a tone which expresses, sarcasm,
anger, hostility or condescension. As much as
possible, speak in a polite, friendly and natural
way. This makes a big difference. Even if you
feel, the person deserves your anger or sarcasm
it will not help to criticise them in this way.
If you do, they will react in a negative way.
If you criticise in a thoughtful way, they will
be much more likely to be sympathetic to your
If a colleague has done something to upset us,
we find it difficult to criticise without expressing
our negative emotions. If this occurs, try smiling
before and during your conversation. When we smile
it subconsciously defuses tense situations. When
we smile, it is easier to relax and create a positive
4. Criticise Important Things.
Nobody likes a busybody, who will point out every
minor infraction. If you criticise people for
every small mistake, then, when there is something
serious they have already developed an aversion
to our critical nature. Be tolerant where possible;
if someone does not share your enthusiasm for
putting the stapler in EXACTLY the right place
- we have to remember this is not a major personality
flaw. Maybe it is just easier to live with the
stapler being temporarily out of place?
5. Disguise the Criticism.
If we are very clever we may be able to change
someone’s behaviour without actually criticising
them. If a work colleague continues to do the
wrong thing, try just suggesting the correct way
of doing it. Appeal to their positive nature.
Suggesting the correct way of doing things involves
only implied criticism; but, if it results in
people doing the right thing, that is all that
6. Praise then Criticism.
No work colleague is without some good qualities,
(we hope). If you have to criticise someone, why
not start off by pointing out some of the good
things they have been doing. This will put them
in a good mood, and therefore they will take the
criticism in a much better frame of mind. Obviously
we should have some sincerity in our praise, otherwise
they will see through our false flattery.
7. Praise them for doing the right Thing.
(even if not true)
This method is a bit sneaky, but it is worth
a try. Suppose somebody is very bad at filling
in forms. Make a point of saying to your boss
how good the person is at doing this task. If
the person hears, they may be shamed into doing
the job efficiently. I got this idea from watching
an episode of the British Sitcom, Yes Minister;
The civil service were refusing to implement the
ministers reforms. So the minister went on TV
and lavished praise on the civil service for doing
an excellent job in implementing these particular
reforms as soon as possible. What the minister
said was completely false, but because he had
praised them on TV, the civil service had to live
upto the Ministers’ praise and implement