My post title is not a typo. This is a crash course for leaders in how to tear someone down.
As I have mentioned numerous times, my first true leadership position happened at the age of 26. I was a punk. I thought I was something special, perhaps even God’s personal gift to mankind…or at least the company. I also had a major issue with offering criticism. I really sucked at it.
To this day, I am still not sure if my real point in offering criticism was to help the person, vent my anger, or make myself feel superior to them. I am sure that it was not to help them at least.
Criticism should never contain any of the following statements or questions. If you want to offer destructive criticism, use these phrases.
“What were you thinking?”
(At no point in human history has this been an actual invitation to share one’s thought process. This is more of a statement along the lines of “you’re thinking sucks.”)
“Is this the best you can do?”
(No, boss, I figured what I would do for you, since you are so kind and loving to me, is give you like 30% effort and try to pass it off as my best. Then, who knows, you might love it, and I have time to watch more episodes of Doogie Howser on Hulu.)
“I want to beat you with a blunt instrument right now.”
(I learned quickly…this is one of the few things I actually learned quickly…that threatening people with physical violence is probably not a good idea.)
“Could you have screwed this up anymore?”
(Yes, I could. Watch me next time, scooter. I will utterly blow your mind with my ability to screw this up more.)
“Next time, just freaking let me handle it.”
(OK. I assume my paycheck will still be the same and I now have more time to study for my fantasy football draft, right?)
“A [insert politically incorrect physically or mentally disabled term] could have done this.”
(You can also substitute the more politically correct “trained monkey.”)
“I need to talk to you….NOW!”
(This is the grown up equivalent of being called to the principal’s office. Everyone knows nothing good is going to happen…thankfully no one walks back funny and asks to stand for the remainder of class in the business world though.)
“[Deep sigh] Where do I even begin?”
(Well, next time you could save us both a lot of time by preparing for this meeting and getting right to the point, but since you asked…)
While this list may be extreme, it is meant to highlight some of the many ways we offer destructive criticism. Nothing good comes out of these or similar statements or questions. Soon, I will write about the effective way to give feedback (not criticism) that certainly does not involve any these destructive methods.
Let the record show that I was once called to the principal’s office for a good reason.
Have you ever offered or been offered destructive criticism? What was the result?