This is a question I was pondering over some time. In effective communication, when you want to show a fault in a person or to ask him to improve on something he is lacking, the golden rule is to provide ample praise to go with your criticism. That is the basics.
But the problem that I was pondering was where to put the praise and where to put the criticism.
Initially, I thought, first criticise, show the fault and then mentioned the good points in a person. If one praise the person first I thought, then he will shut all receptors to the faults I m going to show after words and my efforts will be futile. Basically he will be flying so high after my initial praise, he will ignore all criticism and suggestions for improvements that come afterwards.
Secondly, when praised at the end, I thought, the person's mood will get all right and he will leave the encounter less burdened and feeling less bad. Because after-all, what he received at the end was praise.... Right? Shouldn’t that make his mood all right after my initial criticism?
Second approach is to praise at the beginning and show faults later. Apparently this is what works the best. Praising initially is sort of like a mattress you put first before throwing the person in to ground to make the landing soft and easy. Criticism doesn’t seem to be offensive as it sound to be when it comes after a well thought and sincere praise. The person is then in a pleasant mood after the initial praise and he will be more accepting to his faults and more open to the criticism.
And as I have found out , when criticised initially no amount of praises can make the mood better of a person afterwords. He will always think and get a feeling that im making efforts to patch up with him after my blunderous criticism and will oppose any effort to console him.
Well, now that is sorted.
Yet another thing I was pondering over was how to link the praise with criticism should we use HOW EVER or BUT?
If we use HOW EVER or BUT, the initial praise seems to get shallow. To the receiver it seems as though we praised because we wanted to console him and make him ready for the criticism that comes next. It seems unreal and it doesn’t seem to come from the heart. The correct way to link praise and criticism is by using the word AND.
HOW EVER and BUT are negating words that turn the discussion 180 degrees to the opposite direction. You are contrasting what you said earlier. But AND is a continuation word. It doesn’t negate what comes before. It only extends the discussion. And when managed carefully, you can makes a seamless transition from a praise to criticism by using AND.
Adam, we are really pleased with your term exam results this year. You have done really well in English, Art and Social Science. Look at the drawing you have made, it is a wonderful work of art and I’m really proud of your capabilities. The letter you wrote in English is well thought and I have no doubt even i wouldn’t have been capable of writing one like that in such a short time .... AND your score card would have been even nicer to look at if you would have also scored this well in Mathematics and Science subjects. I know they are not easy subjects to master. With diligent study capabilities you have, and seeing how well you have done in other subjects I have full faith in you that you will do much better in them in next year.
Give a person a fine reputation to live up to ... and he will do his best not to disappoint you.