Over the years I have witnessed a lot of criticism within different working environments. It can often make people feel shame or even anger, and therefore creates a bad atmosphere.
There is a big difference between criticism and constructive feedback, and some people simply do not know the difference and how to deliver it.
Criticism is often a way of asserting power and control; however I have listed below what I believe are the main reasons people may criticise another.
- They feel threatened by your competence and skillsets
It is more frequent than not, that existing employees feel threatened by most new starters. New starters are always fresh and will therefore bring fresh and new ideas to the table.
This can cause potential for a huge threat of either being less competent or being found out.
- They feel you have a different treatment with the leadership team
Most people are selfish in this respect, and want to have “special” treatment from their bosses. It gives people the feeling of inclusion. If somebody feels that they are losing their seat at the table, people can retaliate with criticism.
- They have a sense of control and feel that they are losing the power.
If you are being hired or repositioned to work on a project that somebody else is working on already, they may feel a loss of control. They can often feel like they are losing the power and therefore will see the move as a negative.
Instead of embracing the new pair of hands, they will turn to criticism. You will notice that they do not tell you everything, and they are very vague on project details etc.
- They are attention seeking
Yes, this still happens with adults, it doesn’t stop in the playground!
Whether somebody is trying to prove a point, or simply trying to be difficult, humiliating somebody in public is exactly how it will go down.
They are simply attention seeking, and people will see straight through this. However, this point is the only one that may not actually be caused by you. It could have been caused by any other team member, however you were in the right place at the right time for them to prove their point.
- They feel insecure
This is a summary of all of the above all put into one. The need to criticise or hurt somebody else’s feelings is a huge sign of insecurity. Whether this is in work relationships, personal relationships, etc. it is always caused by insecurity.
- They are genuinely trying to help
There is always this possibility – let’s not be negative!
People don’t always see the damage they cause when criticising somebody’s work or skillset. They do genuinely believe they are helping you and will continue to do so, until somebody plays their way back to them.
People that do this most likely have poor social skills.
I do believe that understanding the above points will help you deal with such people. Critics will always have their own agenda, their own thought process and will be very set in their own ways, however try and understand them so that you can give the best response to the situation. It will benefit you hugely in the work place.
Ask yourself if the person has this approach constantly or has it just been around a specific topic. This will be very telling with regards to the reasons behind the criticism.
Just remember, constructive feedback in private will always get you further.
Blog published by Mike Coady.