How does art help communication

Communication: The art of dealing well with criticism

Being criticized is one of the unpleasant experiences in professional life, especially if the criticism is justified. In the best case, the relationship with the other person is better after a critical discussion than before.

Several months ago I met an assistant doctor in the courtyard of a clinic. Thoughtfully, he drew on his cigarette. I was amazed because the colleague is known for his athleticism - smoking isn't actually one of his hobbies. That moved me to speak to him. “Well, you smoke? Is everything OK.?"

Pressed he said: “Hmh. Well Actually nothing is okay. The boss just really killed me. I should organize myself better, he said. I can't keep up with the doctor's letters, he's right about that. But the whole thing really took me away, I couldn't say anything about it. I think he thinks I'm completely stupid now. When I'm excited, I just have to smoke. It is also clear to me that that doesn't help. Do you have any ideas how I can learn to deal better with criticism? Something like this will happen to me often in my life, so it makes sense not to fall into complete despair every time. "

Dealing well with criticism: four phases

Dealing well with constructively presented criticism helps to learn something and save discussion time. This good behavior essentially takes place in four phases:

  • Phase 1: Listen carefully and ask questions

It is important to listen calmly to those who criticize. If he is right, you can learn something, if the interlocutor is not right, the criticized person has no problem. So there is no need to get upset or feel bad. It helps to keep eye contact relaxed, to calm your thoughts and to keep your attention with the other person.

If something is unclear, ask. This signals that you really want to learn something from the criticism. And it helps to find out what it is really about and whether the criticism contains a possible learning effect or not. A possible question would be, for example: "By when should the doctor's letters be ready?" "How could I deal with ...?" Or: "What else can I do better?"

“Thank you for telling me” is a simple statement that conveys appreciation and also ensures that the person you are talking to calms down if this is necessary. Presumably someone who criticizes has an interest in seeing something improve. That alone is worth a "thank you". Attention: The "thank you" should be meant seriously. A mock or ironic "thank you" causes injuries and an escalation of the conversation.

  • Stage 3: Expressing Regret

No matter what the basis of the criticism or complaint is, the critic has gotten into an uncomfortable situation. It is not difficult to express regret about this. This does not mean that one should automatically admit guilt or apologize. It is better to take up the emerging situation. "I am sorry that difficulties arose." Or: "I am sorry that the referring physician complained." Here, too, it is important that the regret is meant seriously in your own words.

  • Phase 4: what's next?

The only thing left to do is to find out how things will proceed with the critic. It is important to be specific and to keep what has been promised. “In the coming week I will think about what I can reorganize in order to get the letters ready faster. Do we want to sit down the week after next and talk about it briefly? "

Be careful with apologies that are too quick! Being empathetic does not mean hunching over, belittling yourself, or automatically apologizing for yourself. On the other hand, an authentic "I'm really sorry" is sometimes a sign of human greatness. And important, but neither automatically nor always, but very carefully and only when it is humanly appropriate.

When the critic is angry or sad

What to do when someone is very angry or very sad? “Doctor, I just don't know what to do next. I am completely desperate. My husband is just dawning. I have never had to manage my life alone and now I suddenly have all the responsibility. I don't even know where my head is. And now your findings last forever. You are killing me! "

When someone is very angry or very sad, a technique called "paraphrasing" can help. The idea behind it is to lead the speaker out of the strongly negative feelings by giving him or her a logical task. It is actually very simple: repeat what you have heard and ask the person you are speaking to whether you have understood it correctly. Important: closed questions are the method of choice here.

In the case described: “It took you all over the place, right?” The important thing is to find words that fit and are authentic. The other person now has to compare what has been said with what he has experienced or told - a logical comparison that ensures that the feelings are a little less present. It may be necessary to paraphrase three or four times in a row in different variations until the other person has calmed down.

After that, it can help to switch to open-ended, resource-oriented questions. "How do you do it?", "What would be good?", "What would you wish for?" Or "How can you stand it?" Are questions that take away suffering because they draw the other person's attention to simpler, helpful things direct and often bring to light very good solutions that lie in the person concerned.

Then - and only then and only if it is still a critical discussion - it continues with phase 1 (see above).

Avoid escalations, seize opportunities

Of course, such an approach takes time. People who complain or criticize definitely cost time. But the route described avoids escalations. And he ensures that the opportunities that lie in critical discussions can be used well.

Dipl.-Psych. Gabriele Schuster


Athene Academy GmbH

97072 Wuerzburg