Passionate Pursuit of Purpose

3 methods to Giving Critical Feedback (without Destroying the Relationship)

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Character Development, Faith, Finding Destiny, Leadership | 2 comments

When I was 19 years old I was madly in lust with this sexy 17 year old high school dropout.  She was my first real girlfriend and I thought I was in love.  After a few weeks I bought an engagement ring and was ready to propose.

Excitedly I called one of my best friends to tell him the “good news.”  He was a friend whom I trusted and respected a great deal.  When I asked him his thoughts, he wisely responded with a question “Are you moving a little to fast?”

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

That simple question saved me from making a tremendous mistake.  I was not ready, I was not in love, and getting married would have been awful for both of us.  The same friend would end being the best man in my wedding 10 years later.

He could have said a lot of things.  Told me I was an idiot, crazy, jumping off a cliff with nothing but rocks below, however he chose to ask a question.  Asking a question is one method to giving critical feedback without destroying your relationship.

In the bible there is a story about King David after he had committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband to cover up his sin.  The prophet Nathan came to bring correction; to a man whom with a word could have Nathan killed.

So Nathan tells David a story of a rich man and a poor man.  The rich man had many sheep and cows, but the poor man had one lamb that he loved very much.  A visitor came to the rich man and the rich man took the poor man’s lamb and fed it to his visitor. 

Tell a story

Tell a story

Then Nathan asked a question of David, “what should happen to this rich man?” David indignantly replied “As the Lord liveth this man should die.” Nathan replied to David “you are the man!”  Read the entire story here

Here we notice that Nathan used a story to seriously judge King David’s actions.  His story opened the King’s eyes to the complete wickedness of his actions.  Storytelling is the second method of correction.

Sandwich the critique with Praise

Sandwich the critique with Praise

The third method is the sandwich method.  In this method you sandwich the criticism with praise.  You praise something that your friend did (this allows them to put their guard down).  Then you give them the Criticism.  Lastly you leave on a positive note by praising something else they did.

No matter which of these three methods you use, you must genuinely care about the person to have a chance of success.  Here are three attributes that are vital:

  1. Share with the right attitude
  2. You must have relationship and affirm that relationship
  3. Criticize actions not people

So next time you go to give criticism remember the three attributes and use one of the three methods (Asking a question, telling a story, or sandwich). As you implement these I believe it will help your friendships and relationship to grow to deeper levels and lead to greater success for all involved.

Would you like your friends to give you more feedback?  Read “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”.

Do you have people in your life that will give you feedback?  Who are they?  Can you increase that number?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • Jean

    I find no fault with this essay. 🙂 Sometimes we just need to be affirmed when no criticism is necessary. Your writing touches lives, JB, and gets us to stop and think. May God continue to bless you in your ministry of writing.

    • Absolutely correct Jean… If we continually encourage and praise our friends and family, it will give those rare times of criticism even more power.

      Thank you for the compliment, it is good to know other are blessed by my writing.

  • Pingback: Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend | J.B. Farrell()