Caring and criticizing

“I care, therefore I criticize,” or “I’m telling you this because I care about you.”

To the one who is being told to do things differently, what comes through loudest and clearest is the criticism. But the one offering suggestions and judgments is usually focused on the caring.

Why the disconnect? So much depends on the culture of that relationship. And the wording. And the timing.

RELATIONSHIP. Is the relationship one of love and concern for each other? Is feedback doled out often (maybe too often)? Is it nitpicky? Is it unsolicited? Are there more genuine compliments and appreciation than negative feedback? Do the partners want to learn and grow? Is there a balance of both providing useful feedback?

WORDING. Do the words expressed show the love and concern for the other? Has permission been asked and then granted to share the feedback? “Can I share something I’ve been noticing?” Is the observation presented as fact or as a perspective? Is specific advice expressed or is it open to conversation? Does the wording allow for the receiver to disagree?

TIMING. Is the constructive criticism shared too soon after the event? In front of others? In middle of something else?

More about feedback in upcoming posts.

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