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You are my hero if you can claim you have never been criticized or received a feedback or have never given one).
Where there is conflict, there is, whether we like it or not, the language of criticism. Sometime quietly in our heads and hopefully, more often than not, communicated orally. So how do we offer criticism to someone?
A common approach to providing criticism/feedback is sugar-coating it with the word “ Constructive”. In a constructive criticism we assume:
Doesn’t feel very well to be in the receiving end of this conversation, does it?
Pause: How often do you take this stance? How do you give criticism? How do you receive it?
Constructive criticism is based on our Big Assumptions about the narrative and the situation. It is one way and an absolute dead-end. We are specifically putting our finger on what is wrong. We offer solution to a problem as soon as it arises. No matter how hard we are trying to offer a solution, we are demanding “ our own way” to be the right way. Sounds familiar?
How can this be any different?
Well, a different approach can be Deconstructive Criticism!
During a deconstructive criticism there is effort put into understanding the other person’s perspective and point of view. The possibility that, my perspective may not be accurate, exists and is considered. Both parties openly discuss their Big Assumptions and Competing Commitments as well as separate commitments that they hold individually some of which might be internal commitments. There’s a mutual intention to carry on a two-way conversation, listen with presence, learn about oneself and the other. In this manner, both parties are open to change, shift and growth.
A deconstructive criticism provides a space that:
I understand how different this approach is from what we are used to. I recently used the method in a conflicting situation with my fourteen year old teenager and the results was amazing! The encompassing condition though, for any type of conversation that involves a conflict is for both parties to be willing and aware of the dynamics that are ruling their conversation. Without awareness this conversation will not go far.
For more information on Leadership Language you can refer to the works of Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahay.