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How to Offer Criticism Without Being Critical

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Today’s blog is about an important relationship-building tool. Learning how to offer criticism without being critical is important at work and home. It’s crucial for leaders and first-time managers.

It’s about understanding when to use your “active” voice and when to use your “passive” voice. It may sound simple, but it’s amazing how many times we get it wrong.

Today, we’ll quickly review active and passive voice, and offer some tips on how to use each one effectively.

Active voice
The subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated more simply, the noun occurs before the verb. The active voice is often more direct and easier to follow.

For example, “You performed exceptionally well on this project.

Passive voice
The action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later.

So the example above, spoken in the passive voice would be, “This project was done exceptionally well by you.”

Note that this sentence actually sounds a little strange stated in the passive voice. That’s often the case.

Use the passive voice to offer criticism.
The passive voice has its uses. For example, which of the following two statements would you rather hear?

“You performed below expectations on this project”

“Expectations weren’t met on this project.”

The first example is in the active voice. So the focus is on “you”, not the “project”. The second example does the opposite – using the passive voice, it puts the focus on the project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so, because it screams, “You screwed up!”

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive! They won’t feel backed into a corner. They feel more like you’re on their side. You’re not fixing the blame; you’re trying to fix the problem with their help.

Use the active voice to praise people.
Going back to our original example, we’ll bet you would feel great if your boss said, “You performed exceptionally well …”

Can you imagine how your performance would improve if your boss said something like that to you in front of all your co-workers? This is an incredible tool for managers to improve the morale of their troops.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

Our BIGG quote today comes from Abraham Lincoln:
“He has a right to criticize, who has the heart to help.”

Actively accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives with your passive voice.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to deal with a difficult co-worker. Until then, here’s to your BIGG success!

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/biggsuccess/00128-050708.mp3

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Why Being Imperfect is Perfect

On the show, George said his dad was a perfectionist. Specifically, he was a bricklayer who was known for his impeccable craftsmanship. However, when he was working on other things, George said he would sometimes hear his dad say …

“It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

That’s a great saying to remember to help you fight your inner perfectionist. When you’re working on something, you reach a point of diminishing returns. 

2 options
#1 – You can spend a whole bunch more time to get something a little bit better, or

#2 – You can spend the same time and get a whole bunch more done.

In most cases, you’re better off doing #1!

The 80 / 20 rule
Apply the old 80 / 20 rule – 80 percent of the things you do probably don’t need to be perfect; only 20 percent do.

If what you’re working on is really important, go for the marginal improvement you’ll get from spending the extra time on it. If it’s not that important, get it done and remind yourself that it’s good enough for who it’s for.

For example, Mary-Lynn said that she used to try to get her hair to look just right before she went to work. But she has a lot of hair, so it took some time. She found that if she kept fussing with it, she’d be late for work. She learned to just turn off that curling iron, pull the plug and say, “It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

George said he only wished he had enough hair to have that problem!

Perfectionism causes procrastination
Perfectionism can be a huge problem because it may cause you to procrastinate. Have you ever put off doing something because everything had to be perfect before you could start?

George said that when he had a report to write in college, he would never be satisfied with the research he had done. The house had to be immaculate before he could start. His desk had to be cleaned and organized. He finally learned to say, “It’s good enough for who it’s for!” Then he could get start writing the report!

Rebutting your inner perfectionist
There’s a well-known technique for fighting off your inner critic. Start a journal that records the conversation between the perfectionist in you and your more practical self. This helps you discover what is causing your need for perfection so you can rebut your inner perfectionist.

So, yes, we’re telling you to talk to yourself! But remember, you don’t need a perfect reply or a perfect question.

Our bigg quote today is a shortened version of a quote by John Updike:

“Perfectionism is the enemy of creation …”

So fight off your inner perfectionist with these simple words, “It’s good enough for who it’s for.”

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to increase your profit year after year. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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4 Characteristics of Constructive Criticism

By Bigg Success Staff
02-24-08

Leadership Skills

 

One of your responsibilities as a leader is to admonish the troops who fall out of line. It could be that they aren’t performing up to expectations. Perhaps some behavior isn’t in line with the 314 code of conduct] you established.

You have to respond to these errant troops so your whole team keeps progressing toward the 270 victory you defined]. There are four characteristics of your response:

Quick
The longer you wait to address the situation, whatever it may be, the more you risk that the behavior will become systemic. Don’t think that you’re too busy to deal with these situations. They need to be a top priority.

Logical
While you need to react quickly, you shouldn’t respond if you’re still feeling emotional about the situation. You’ll do more harm than good. If need be, let it sit overnight. The key thing is to address the situation as soon as you can discuss it logically, not emotionally.

Private
You should discreetly pull the person aside to have your discussion. No one likes to be called out in public. It’s counterproductive – you may find the person you’re disciplining defending themselves more aggressively. Worse yet, they may withdraw and become less productive. It also has repercussions with your other troops.

Systematic
Prepare for a conversation, not a confrontation. Before you do that, know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. You’ve established consequences for underperforming and violating the code of conduct. You have to be prepared to dispense those consequences or risk that your code will become meaningless.

Try to start off the conversation with some positives – things they’re doing well. Then discuss the situation at hand, helping them understand why it is not acceptable. If it involves performance, offer him or her suggestions or resources to help them get back on track. Finish off with some encouraging words along with a time to review progress.

Admonishing your troops when they fall out of line is one of the most important abilities of a great leader. If done correctly, you’ll find that most of your people get back on track quickly.

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The Most Important Person To Laugh At

laughing

  

 

We’ll stray from our traditional show summary format so you can read how George and Mary-Lynn put this concept to use!

George: Today, we’ll talk about laughing at yourself and the benefits that go along with it. Laughing is good for you. Research shows that people who get in a few bigg belly laughs every day are healthier! And I find that the older I get, the bigger my belly laugh gets!

Mary-Lynn: That just means there’s more belly laugh to love! Another benefit is that it keeps you from taking yourself too seriously. And I learned a long time ago not to take myself too seriously … nobody else does!

George: It also endears people to you. People like people who can laugh at themselves.

Mary-Lynn: And, if they may relate to what you said, that makes it even funnier. I always feel good when someone makes fun of themselves, because then they’re not making fun of me. And believe me, I provide a lot of material!

George: I’ll say, Mary-Lynn!

Mary-Lynn: Now you’re making fun of me!

George: I found that it can also release the pressure in a tense situation. The conversation heats up as people stake out positions. If I say something silly about myself, everybody takes a brief break. Then the conversation can be productive again.

How to learn to laugh at yourself

Mary-Lynn: Some people just don’t have that sense of humor. So let’s offer some tips on how to learn to laugh at yourself.

George:
All you have to do is look like me! First, talk to yourself. My dad said, “Talking to yourself is the best way to make sure intelligent questions get asked and intelligent answers are given!” The point is to make yourself laugh, but do it quietly.

Mary-Lynn: Second, become a student of humor. As you watch a show or listen to a comedian, think about how you could use the funny line. Review conversations. Have you ever thought, “Oh, I wished I had said …” The more you rehearse, the quicker you’ll get.

George:
Third, it has to be spontaneous. That’s what normally makes it funny – the element of surprise. One easy way to do this is to take something that’s memorable from the discussion you’ve been having and bring it up again, turning it on yourself.

Mary-Lynn:
Well, George, if we had said anything memorable I would give an example! So we’ll just move on!

2 things to avoid with self-deprecating humor

Mary-Lynn: Don’t make fun of things you’re insecure about. It serves no purpose and it makes other people uncomfortable. You have to laugh at yourself with confidence, because then people know it’s a joke.

George:
Don’t create a bad perception with your self-deprecating humor. For example, you may be confident in your work ethic. You might look bad if you talk about how lazy you are.

Mary-Lynn:
But George, one of your favorite lines, when people ask you what you do is, “As little as possible.”

George: That’s because it’s true!

Mary-Lynn: See, there you go again!

George:
Yeah, but I immediately follow it up with the real answer.

Mary-Lynn:
After they’ve laughed WITH you laughing AT yourself! What’s your favorite self-deprecating line? Share it with us by leaving a Comment! What’s our bigg quote today, George?

George: Our bigg quote today comes from Shirley MacLaine, who said,“I’ve don’t know which life to make fun of me in!” Seriously, she said …

“The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”


Mary-Lynn:
And thanks to myself, I’m easily amused!

George:
Next time, it will be St. Patrick’s Day. So we’ll ask a question – is it better to be lucky or smart?

Mary-Lynn:
Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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