Providing criticism to people of equal rank or status is difficult but often necessary especially when not having the information could have negative results. They do not have to listen to you and even if they do, they do not have to act upon what you say. Your chances of getting them to accept your point of view will be greatly increased if you select the most appropriate path from one of the following options:
Being sympathetic conveys that you understand how the other person feels, but you do not feel that way yourself. Use this path in situations where you truly want to understand someone’s intentions and are trying to accept how that person feels even though you may disagree once you know.
This path is not as useful with disgruntled peers because they are less likely to understand their own feelings. All is not lost though; it could be a good beginning. Having their feelings acknowledged without being the focus of blame could open up this path in the future.
Being empathetic communicates that you understand how the other person feels because you feel or have felt that way yourself. This path gives you the ability to connect on an emotional level. It shows that you have insights to share and are seeking a deeper exploration of the issues. This path also serves to open up communications with a potential Doer who will be pleased to know you accept his or her point of view but may not be ready to accept yours.
Being apathetic indicates that you do not know how the other person feels and do not want to know either. This path works best with people who care more about their own feelings than they do about yours. That being the case, you might as well make your point without regard to their feelings or potential reactions. This path demonstrates that all you want from the other person is acceptance of your position and an understanding that you will be back if you do not get what you need.
When communicating your thoughts is not the issue, but understanding the basis for rejection from others is, you may have to make some adjustments. For instance, in seeking clarification, try not to imply that the criticism is without merit until you hear the details.
In addition, when responding to accusations or complaints, take care not to accept responsibility too soon. Until you have developed a list of your own phrases, try these:
– I am confused about what you need from me and when you expect it.
– I am excited about this task, but I need more time to do it right.
– I am disappointed with these results because I had higher expectations.
– I am not prepared right now and need time to think about my response.
– I am reluctant to implement your suggestions without consulting my team.