The dictionary definition of criticism is to openly find fault with. If you follow that description its no wonder that criticism often causes the person being criticized to become angry. Given that most people haven't received any training in how to offer criticism its really not all that surprising that it's the cause of so much anger. Because of this, training in how to give criticism should be an important part of any anger management class.
Offering criticism can be even more stressful than receiving it. Studies have shown that people who are about to offer criticism are often concerned that they or the other person may get angry at them and that they will not know how to manage that other person's anger.
One way to avoid all this stress and anger is to redefine criticism. A number of research studies have shown that people actually want to know what they do well, what they need to improve, and what others believe their strengths and weaknesses are. Most people want to do a good job or be a good spouse or friend and are oftentimes eager to improve. So the trick to providing criticism as a good anger management technique is to redefine it as something that emphasizes teaching rather than finding fault and running someone down.
In the book, "Criticism Management: How to More Effectively Give, Receive, and Seek Criticism in Our Lives" Randy Garner outlines an alternate definition of criticism that he calls "G.R.I.P.E." which emphasizes criticism as an opportunity to provide useful information which helps another Grow, Recover, Improve, Prosper and Excel (G.R.I.P.E.).
What makes for Good Criticism?
Garner feels that the goal of criticism should be to help the recipient G.R.I.P.E. The aim is neither to belittle the person you are criticizing nor to inflate your ego; instead it is offered in a spirit of assistance.
Constructive criticism is:
1) Problem-focused, not personal
2) Specific, not vague
3) Descriptive, rather than judgmental or blaming
What makes for bad criticism?
The goal of someone who uses destructive criticism is to make you look bad, manipulate you for their own benefit, or to make themself appear better, smarter, or more powerful than you. In short, the goal is not improvement or helping, but to injure your self-esteem. Destructive criticism may be given to show "who's the boss," or demean the other person.
Destructive criticism is:
1) Often personally focused
2) Overly general or vague
3) Focused on judgment and blame
4) Offered without the best interests of the recipient in mind
Criticism Techniques for Anger Management
1) "Explain as if the Other Person Doesn't Know" Anger Management Technique
With this anger management technique criticism is intentionally worded to act as if the person does not know the right way to do something through no fault of their own. For example, you might start out by saying something like "You may not know this, however, we need to have..." or "You may not be aware , of this, however all of these need to be approved before they are sent out." This approach keeps the other person from feeling defensive which makes it much less likely they will become angry.
2) The "Demonstration" Anger Management Technique
One of the best ways to offer criticism is by showing them how you do it. Demonstrating the right approach can be very helpful in keeping someone from becoming angry. This not only communicates that you are willing to lend a hand; it allows you to offer criticism in a way that helps the other improve. Scientific research has shown that people learn fastest and show the most improvement through having someone model the proper way to do something for them. Athletes and executives both use coaches to teach them to be more effective.
3) "Poop Sandwich" Anger Management Technique
You probably know this technique by another name. This three step technique involves starting out by saying something positive about the person. Even if they are totally screwing up you might be able to praise their effort and say something like "I totally see you out there working hard and trying your best". Then in the middle you slip in what you are unhappy about or what the person is doing wrong. Then you top it off by telling them how to improve and either using the demonstration anger management technique to make sure they have it down or by simply praising them and saying that you have faith that they can do this. You start and finish on high notes, which cushioning the criticism (aka "poop") in the middle
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Visit AngerManagement.net for anger management classes designed to make the most of your valuable time and money. What separates this course from others you may have taken is that we are going to cover anger from all angles - what I call "The Four Horsemen of Anger." Visit online today.
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