Having been through many courses and training in leadership, one of the things that we are taught is how to give constructive criticism, especially when counselling a member on performance. It's been found that, and it's taken many, many years in my organization, lol, true constructive criticism, when given properly, effects much better results than, let's say, an authoritative approach to the situation (we're no longer allowed to scream and yell (unless completely warranted) and call our subordinates names or talk to them in any other sort of demeaning and humiliating manner).
Anyways, I looked up the definition of constructive criticism, and how to effectively deliver it, and found a great business site, that pretty much mirrors what we practice when counselling a member.
1. Focus on the issue, not the person. It is important to focus this constructive criticism on the member's performance, not on his personal characteristics
2. Begin with positive feedback
. It is always a good idea to begin and end a session of constructive criticism by mentioning what is being done well. However, do not over-emphasize the positive points if there is a serious deficiency that has to be overcome. This could detract from the seriousness of the issue.
3. Be specific. For the criticism to be truly constructive, the manager needs to be specific about the errors or misjudgments that were made, the steps to be taken to correct the situation, and the expected results.
4. Be realistic. It is important that the plan and the timelines for corrective action are realistic and achievable. Also, the focus must be on areas of work over which the employee has control.
5. Be businesslike. The tone of delivery for constructive criticism should be matter-of-fact,not haranguing, sarcastic or demeaning
6. Listen to and watch the employee. Make sure the employee has opportunity to talk about his perspective on this constructive criticism, to ask questions to clarify what you are saying, and even to offer ideas on corrective action. It is important that the manager take the time to listen to understand the employee's position.
7. Agree on next steps. Before the meeting ends, the manager and employee should agree to the corrective action. If the employee is having difficulty accepting this criticism, constructive or not, it might be best to give him time to think about everything and schedule another meeting for the next day.
One of the sites I visited gave the difference between giving constructive criticism and giving your opinion. The definition of Constructive Criticism from Wikipedia is as follows:
"Constructive criticism, or constructive analysis, is a compassionate attitude
towards the person qualified for criticism. Having higher experience, gifts, respect, knowledge in specific field and being able to verbally convince at the same time, this person is intending to uplift
the other person materially, morally, emotionally or spiritually. For high probability in succeeding compassionate criticism, the critic has to be in some kind of healthy personal relationship with the other one, which is normally a parent to child, friend to friend, teacher to student, spouse to spouse or any kind of recognized authority in specific field. Hence the word constructive is used so that something is created or visible outcome generated rather than the opposite. Participatory learning in pedagogy is based on these principles of constructive criticism, focusing on positive examples to be emulated over precepts to be followed."
Opinion is defined (from Wikipedia) as follows:
" An opinion is a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be supported by an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. However, it can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analysing the supporting arguments.
"An opinion may be the result of a person's perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires. In casual use, the term opinion may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact-based beliefs."
As the one site that describes the difference between the two states:
"One must exercise great caution in distinguishing between Constructive Criticism and a simple Opinion, as well as placing an appropriate value on each."
I think the above is fantastic advice, and if we all follow the guidelines of giving constructive criticism and our own opinions, there would be much less occurrence of animosity in the threads. (that would be my opinion,
) I also think that Ron sums up the receiving end of constructive criticism nicely in his post: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/new-member-introductions/sometimes-we-read-what-we-dont-want