Firing Back at Critics Won’t Help Resolve Issue at Hand

An Exclusive
CHICAGO — Have you ever gotten up in the morning fighting with yourself over how you or your team could receive additional compensation for your work? Or maybe your team is threatening to go elsewhere and you are caught in the middle.
Managers who sit back and watch challenging situations occur without addressing these issues with employees and at the highest management levels are simply ignoring the damage to their organizations as well as to individuals who may have witnessed these out-of-line occurrences. Worse yet, the manager could be held responsible for such occurrences.
Whenever we receive criticism, no matter its source, we arrive at a crossroads that requires us to make a decision. We can act as though the world has come to an end, adjust accordingly without causing additional harm, or take the high road and work at ways to improve relationships. Defusing an issue is usually better than aggravating the situation.
Stay away from e-mailing your frustrations. Always respond by phone or, better yet, in person; angry, bitter e-mails will eventually haunt you.
Listening to those who are being critical is important. Always analyze the entire issue before jumping to conclusions. Think, then offer a rebuttal if necessary.
Few folks can take criticism without trying to debate an issue that may not be worthy of debate. If a response is needed, offer suggestions for improvement or resolution. Consider the entire set of circumstances—criticism is often a product of not fully knowing the issue, i.e. a misunderstanding.
Always take notes during these discussions, but don’t do it on your cell phone if you’re facing the concern directly—this simply makes others uncomfortable.
Get to the issue or issues at hand, and determine if something else may have contributed to the matter. In more cases than not, something other than this particular situation has stimulated adversarial remarks.
The best approach is to sit back and take your time analyzing the situation. This applies to any and all parties involved. If you are the one being criticized, seeking additional time to examine the potential triggers and think over the matter will usually gain you more respect than if you start firing back defensively.
If you observe something that looks wrong, report these actions immediately. If you are responsible, either directly or indirectly, then be responsible. Do not further agitate the situation or support anything that reflects negatively on your organization.
It is important to protect yourself, no matter how diplomatic you are. Sometimes, it can become impossible to find common ground and to reach a resolution over serious matters.
If divergent views are to become part of your official record, then it is well within the boundaries to defend yourself. Always document such rebuttals so that when someone else reviews your file, they will have a clear explanation of the situation from your perspective.


A final thought this month: When talking on your cell phone in a public place, be courteous and step away from others before entering into a conversation. If you cannot step away, cup your hand over the mouthpiece when talking. Those around you will appreciate it.


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