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Work better and more efficiently thanks to criticism: every feedback helps me

Constructive criticism can help to improve your own way of working. Nevertheless, it is not very popular in perfectionist Germany. It is different in other countries.

Successful innovation and feedback culture: In other countries you are further

Some time ago I wrote about the American feedback culture in my column in the daily newspaper “Die Welt”. A topic that is apparently topical in Germany right now: Shortly afterwards, Medium magazine also reported on the American culture of innovation and feedback in Silicon Valley.

Obviously, other countries manage to do something the Germans still struggle with: there is a successful feedback culture there. But why is that? And how do you become more productive in this country through criticism?

Master in giving feedback

I noticed in Texas - whose capital Austin is also known as Silicon Hills for a reason - that it is common practice there to ask customers for feedback. There is even active demand. Even in restaurants you should fill out feedback sheets - something that is still rare in Germany and Switzerland.

I am only thinking of the many training providers who, for purely formal reasons, have feedback forms filled out that are prescribed by some certification rules. Feedback as a necessary evil, so to speak. And the reaction is correspondingly panicked when really well-founded criticism is made.

Make targeted use of the innovation potential of criticism

In the US, however, criticism is a normal part of culture. It is dealt with accordingly loosely. Successful Company like Google even draw their innovation potential from it. At the Internet giant, and not only there, new products are launched as beta products and then comprehensively assessed by customers. Only then do those innovative ideas emerge that make Google one of the most successful companies of our time.

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Unfortunately, in Germany it is often difficult to accept criticism. Because the prevailing culture of perfectionism doesn't allow any mistakes. Dealing with feedback is correspondingly difficult for the individual: Both the feedback giver and the feedback recipient are often unsure of how to deal with it. This is how executive coach Sabine Lanius reports in an article Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®

“I keep meeting managers who feel uncomfortable when giving feedback ... and again and again employees who are almost afraid of feedback.”

5 tips for real criticism

What can be done to reduce the fear of criticism? Communicating feedback correctly is the answer. And react correctly. Because then feedback is not a problem, it makes the work more productive.

  1. Avoid reviews and ratings: Explain in detail what you mean and what exactly you are referring to - then the other person will understand better what your concern is and will feel less criticized. It is ideal if you offer a solution right away, eg “The results were not ideal this month. We could do XY to improve productivity. "
  2. Typical mistakes: Often enough, feedback does not arrive as desired, even if it is well meant. Typical errors when giving feedback are, for example, feedback that is too indirect or pent-up criticism that suddenly erupts. In the first case, the criticized person does not know what to do; in the second case he is simply overwhelmed.
  3. Do not mix praise and criticism: Many people try to soften the force of the criticism by prefixing it with praise. That is a problem, however: what gets stuck is primarily the “but” - the criticism devalues ​​the praise, so to speak.
  4. Respond correctly to criticism: Anyone who is criticized must have the opportunity to respond. If you don't understand a criticism, ask. For example, also for alternative solutions. Then take a position on the criticism, but without justifying yourself. Avoid the “yes… but” sentences that are so typical in such cases. Instead: Show what you want to do better in the future.
  5. Respond to irrelevant criticism: Not all criticism is justified, or it is expressed in an unconstructive way. Questions that specifically follow a negative statement are particularly common. “You are obviously overwhelmed with this task. What projects do you have planned for the next quarter? " Most of the time you just answer the question and leave the previously made statement unchanged. However, you are not rejecting the negative assessment. In such cases, it is better to respond objectively to the statement and refute it with facts: "As the figures show, I am by no means overwhelmed with my work, but was able to make additional profits." Only then do you answer the question: “Based on these successes, I plan for the coming quarter ...”

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