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Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to deal with criticism and faults

Giving criticism is something we all must do with from time to time.  The problem is, most people hate to criticize -- except behind your back -- and most people hate to be criticized.  Yet an appropriate level of criticism is essential, and can even be good if done appropriately.

Believe it or not even the ancients dealt with this topic.  If you read the Bible you'll see that it was dealt with in Matthew 18: 15-17.  Matthew writes:  "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses'  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector."

To give a good example, I had a doctor write me up recently because I was, in her words, "too relaxed in my approach to an emergency."  My initial response was anger, and that's a normal response.  My second response was to laugh it off with my boss.  Neither of us took it seriously (as you can note for yourself in this facetious post).

This doctor did not follow the rule of talking to me first.  She was tactless.

I have to be honest and tell you that when my boss comes to me and tells me I did something wrong, or a doctor didn't agree with something I did or said, I get angry.  That's almost always my first reaction.  Then I shut my mouth and listen.  Then I listen to my boss as she tells me how to do it right.

Chances are I'll leave her office upset and angry.  I might even be in a mood.  Yet there's also another thing that almost always happens as a result of this criticidsm:  it gets me to thinking.  Somehow and someway I will make some change that will make me better.  As a return, this will make the department better.

So a good manager who follows the appropriate steps can use criticism to make her workers better, and make her department better.  Yet for the sake of God and the sake of morale, she better not come complaining to us about trivial things, and she better not go to her boss to complain about me before she talks to me.

That was the mistake my doctor friend made.  She failed to take the appropriate steps.  Her soft skills in this regard were severely lacking.  This is a problem I face with her -- and so do my fellow workers -- on a regular basis.  Yet we bite our tongues and deal with it.  Sometimes we get angry, yet mostly we laugh it off.

I can guarantee that something will change after just about every criticism.  If I don't make myself a better therapist, I'll use that energy to make myself better at avoiding the critical person.  I will avoid that person like the plague.  I will become quite adept at it.

If I cannot avoid the annoying criticizer, then I will find a way of only speaking to that person on a professional basis.  Thus, if you me how I like that doctor, I will say:  We have a good professional relationship".  If I say that about you, then you know I don't like you.  Although I've said it only three or four times in my 15 years as an RT.

My point here is that sometimes you must approach someone with criticism.  If you do it appropriately, good things can result.  Yet if you do it inappropriately, you become the fool.

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