Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Destructive Criticism

I'm sure many of you out there have received "feedback" from your boss over the course of your career. Your boss calls you in to chat and opens up by saying "I have a little constructive criticism for you regarding...".

I've had some bosses that really wanted to help me and provided actual constructive criticism. They would give me real bonafide examples of something I've done incorrectly, then provide examples of the correct way and finish it off on a positive note.

Unfortunately though, more times than not what a boss will term as "constructive criticism" is actually more like "destructive criticism". Destructive criticism usually serves no other purpose than to wear you down and make you feel like an idiot, while making your boss feel ultra superior. If you've actually had real constructive criticism from a prior boss, you will enter your existing bosses office, expecting it. Then, whammo, you get smacked with complete negatives without detail, guidance or support. The feedback you receive is completely vague and usually is more perception than reality. When you ask your boss for detail, there isn't any because their purpose is not to help you, but to smack you around and show their power.

So how do you deal with destructive criticism? Anyone would probably tell you to address the issue with your Human Resources department. WRONG!! The one thing that most people forget is that the HR department is not really there for you, they are there to protect the company. If you think your boss is an ass before you go to HR, he or she will kick it up 100 notches after HR relays back what you said. I've been there, trust me on this. As a Turtle at Work I've dealt with destructive criticisers by sticking to the Turtle philosophy. Below are the Turtle tips for dealing with a boss that is a destructive criticiser:

  1. Lay low & Blend. You can't be criticized if your not noticed. Let an over-zealous co-worker take the heat.
  2. Remember the Shell. Even if you follow the first tip, you still will be open to destructive criticism. Don't try and debate it with your boss, just take your licks and play dead. You'll get out of the office sooner if you just let things roll off your shell.
  3. Develop Thick Skin. If your boss knows that his idiotic criticism is getting to you, he'll pile it on more. Turtles have thick skin, so should you. If you debate and show emotion your playing into the hands of your boss.
  4. Be Smarter. You know the criticism is bullshit, but act like it's the best thing you've ever heard. You'll stifle your boss, believe me. Remember, the idiot is criticising you harshly to fuel his own ego. If you stay positive and act overly thankful for the feedback, your boss will think he's actually smart. Turtles survive by being smarter than their predators, play the game!
Well, I'm a bit rusty. Haven't posted in some time. I'll have some new material coming up. I appreciate those of you that still visit the site. I also appreciate those emails I've gotten and comments asking for more posts. I'll try my best to pump out meaningful, quality content.


Great post. Also I think you have to consider the source. Mean-spirited, insecure bosses live to cut down people that they know they can hurt. When you realize that you are not your job, it sets you free from that. You will be you whether you are a middle-manager, a garbage man, or even homeless. You are the same person.

This jerk’s opinions or “criticism” doesn’t mean anything in the long run. This is what I remind myself when I’m put in situations like that.

Not to mention, “constructive criticism” that doesn’t help but just makes you feel bad is a sure sign of a toxic working environment, and time to haul ass outta there, before it affects your health or you are demoralized too much to feel you can find a job elsewhere. Because really, there will always be a job elsewhere.

Really great points!!! If you have a toxic, destructive boss, you gotta check out things elsewhere. Although sometimes these idiotic bosses get what they give and are canned. If you work at a good company, the destructive boss won't last long. If you work at a crappy company that doesn't care about employees, update the resume and get out asap. THanks again for your comment.

Turtle King

Others do offer constructive criticisms but some are just plain rude. Sometimes it's better to avoid them to avoid their criticisms.

I agree with the idea of having a thick skin. If we show any sign of weakness, our enemies will surely push their way through that hole.

Thanks for the comments Helen and Pamela. I learned as a Turtle at Work that my skin has to be pretty thick because I have so many idiots above me giving unfair or unproductive criticism. I let it "roll of my shell"...LOL.

Turtle King

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