The next time you want to give someone some “constructive criticism,” consider this quote from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment. Hans Selye, another great psychologist, said, ‘As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.’
The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.”
So the next time you want to “give someone a piece of your mind,” first ask yourself if you can spare it, and second, will it really do any good? And a good rule of thumb I have found is to ASK the person first if they’re open to hearing some feedback. Then if they say yes, you can share your viewpoint or observation and they’ll probably be more open to hearing it. And if they say no (as my wife often does when I ask her if she’d like some feedback) just accept it and walk away. If and when they’re ready, they’ll come back and ask you for your opinion, and they’ll be in a much more receptive mood to really listen to what you have to say.