Video: A Four-Step Model for Receiving Constructive Criticism


Getting criticized stinks. I'm not going to sugarcoat that. But there is a technique you can use to receive constructive criticism that makes it a little more bearable, and even constructive.

Think about it this way, every conversation, just about, has basically four layers. There are Facts, and based on those Facts, the human brain makes Interpretations. Based on those Interpretations, we have an emotional Reaction. And then, based on that emotional Reaction, we have some desired End. We call this, the FIRE Model.

Now, let's imagine the boss comes into our office and he just uncorks on us. He says, "Mark, I asked you to look at that memo yesterday, did I not? Look, I found two typos in that memo you wrote. It's like everything else I said to you yesterday you just completely ignored. And I’ve got to say, I'm getting pretty angry at you about this because now you're wasting my time. You know what? As result, going forward, I want to proofread everything you send out for the next year." Okay. That's a lot of criticism and it's coming at me fast and hard.

But what if I take my FIRE Model, and I take that big blob of criticism, and I break it into its parts to find just the constructive criticism. What I hear is, what were the Facts? Well, the Facts were I had two typos in that memo I wrote. Let's just presume that those were, in fact, typos. Okay, I had two typos. Now, what was the boss’s Interpretation? His Interpretation (or her Interpretation) was that those two typos meant that I was ignoring him. That I wasn't paying attention to anything he said. Based on that Interpretation, what was his emotional Reaction? His emotional Reaction was he’s getting angry. He’s getting irritated and frustrated with me. Then based on that emotional Reaction, what's his desired End? He wants to proofread everything I write for the next year.

Now, if I just take all of this criticism at once, one big bucket and splash it on me, it's going to be really hard to find anything resembling constructive criticism in there. I'm going to have a really difficult time processing all of it. But if I mentally, when I'm getting yelled at, or getting criticized, if I break it into these four component parts, now all of a sudden what I hear is a constructive criticism that I can use: I had two typos in the memo. I can take all of the other bits of criticism; the Interpretations, Reactions and Ends, and stuff them into another bucket over here and just focus on the Facts.

Now, if somebody comes to me and says, "There were two typos in your memo yesterday, Mark," I can say, "Oh, wow. I’ve got to fix those. I'm sorry, I need to figure out where I went wrong and how to not do it again." I can respond really constructively to knowing that I messed something up. Great, that's a Fact. I can emotionally process that with no big baggage. What I need to do is, when I get criticized, I need to listen for the Facts and find the constructive criticism. Because if I respond to the, IRE, that's all I'm going to incite. I'm going to spark other people's IRE. If I do the Interpretations, Reactions, and Ends, that's not going to get me anywhere, because I’m going to miss the constructive criticism and now I'm going to go, "My boss hates me. They're frustrated, they're angry, they want to proofread everything, they don't trust me. Agh!" I'm going to go into a big giant spin. I can't do that.

But if I focus on the Facts, I'm able to be more analytical. I’ll locate the usable constructive criticism and do something constructive with it. Not that I want to go looking for criticism. It'd be best if I hadn't made the typos, but when it happens, and if you live long enough it will, if you use the FIRE Model, you can focus on the Facts and stay analytical and stay constructive.

Posted by Mark Murphy on 16 November, 2016 Communication Skills, Constructive Criticism, Video | 0 comments
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