Let's not allow any unwholesome talk come out of our mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs (Ephesians 4:29). We should keep our words both soft and tender, because someday we may have to eat them.  Here's an article derived from the writings of Les Giblin showing us how to make constructive criticism; that is correcting without criticizing.

There are times when a successful leader must point out errors and "correct" others. This is truly an art, and one that most would-be leaders fall down on.

The real purpose of criticism is not to beat the other fellow down, but to build him up; not to hurt his feelings, but to help him do a job better

Not long ago I was discussing this subject with Walter Johnson, vice-president of American Airlines. We were discussing the real need for criticism, and how it could be a real help.

You know, Les," he said, "a pilot coming in for a landing is a good example of successful criticism. Frequently, his flying must be criticized or corrected by the tower.

Yet I've never heard of one of our pilots getting offended by this criticism. I've never heard one say, 'Aw, he's always finding fault with my flying. Why can't he say something good for a change?"

Keep in mind that their criticism is to achieve a good end result for both the airline and the pilot. The man in the tower doesn't deal in personalities. He doesn't use recriminations. His criticism is not blared out over loudspeakers but in strict privacy to the pilot's earphones. He criticizes the act, not the person. The next time we must get someone back on the beam, let us remember how the airlines "correct" their pilots

The pilot isn't asked to do something merely to please the boss.  He has an incentive of his own to take the criticism and benefit by it. He is not offended; he actually appreciates it. He is more likely to buy the man in the tower a steak dinner than to cuss him.

And the really important thing is that both the pilot and his "boss" achieve some useful end result. A smile in giving honest criticism can make the difference between resentment and reform.

Here are some suggestions for successful criticism:

Criticism must be made in private-If we want our criticism to be effective, we must not engage the other person's ego against us. The mildest form of criticism made in the presence of others is very likely to be resented by the other person.

Preface criticism with a kind word or compliment. - Kind words, compliments, and praise have the effect of setting the stage in a friendly atmosphere. It serves notice on the other fellow that we are not attacking his ego, and puts him more at his ease.

Praise and compliments open the other person's mind: "I know from past experience that you are always looking for little ways to constantly improve your work. It occurred to me that..."

Make the criticism impersonal.-Criticize the act, not the person. After all, it's his actions that we are interested in anyway. Deal with the faults of others as gently as we do with our own.

Supply the answer-When we tell the other person what he did wrong, let’s also tell him how to do it right. The emphasis should not be on the mistake, but the means and ways to correct the mistake and avoid a recurrence. Nothing can lower morale in an office, plant, or home quite so much as an atmosphere of general dissatisfaction without there being any clear defining of just what is expected. Most people are anxious to "do right" if we tell them what "right" is.

Ask for cooperation; don't demand it.-Asking always brings more cooperation than demanding.  When we demand, we place the other fellow in the role of slave and ourselves in the role of slave drivers. When we ask, we place him in the role of a member of our team. Team feeling gets much more cooperation than force.

One criticism to an offense. -To call attention to a given error one time is justified. Twice is unnecessary. And three times is nagging. Remember our goal in criticism: To get a job done.

Finish in a friendly fashion.-Until an issue has been resolved on a friendly note, it really hasn't been finished. Don't leave things hanging in air, to be brought up later. Give the other fellow a pat on the back at the end of the conversation. Let his last memory of the meeting be the pat on the back, instead of a kick in the pants.

Formula for tact: Be brief, politely; be aggressive, smilingly; be emphatic, pleasantly; be positive, diplomatically; be right, graciously.

Lord, keep Your arms around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth.

 

Tim