criticism is hard to give

person holding orange smoke bomb
Photo by Zachary DeBottis on

You know your words are barbed with poison,

Ready to explode, a hot grenade,

Ripping through the gentle souls

And yet you’re forced to utter them,

Cringing, crying, craving some release

And all the while we’re realising that

It must be hard to dish that out from day to day.

As a first year teacher, I am at the bottom of the pecking order, so I tend to just go into work, keep my head down and then go home when the day is done. But yesterday, I had to use my words and I found it really difficult.

We had a department meeting and the senior member of staff who was running the meeting was trying to get all of us to practice ‘radical candour’. I had never heard of this term before, but lots of leaders try to use it to give criticism, but deliver it woth love.

Being always on the bottom rung, I realise that I don’t have much confidence in myself, so the idea of giving criticism to people above me was terrifying.

At the end of the session we had to write on a post it, what we want management to stop that could make our life easier. It was anonymous, but the ideas were read out to the group.

I think that it was writing the words ‘I want you to stop’ that was the most difficult thing because that involves creating boundaries and I am so bad at that. So, telling my boss what they should not do in order to make me enjoy my job more felt so uncomfortable I wanted to be sick.

It was an interesting exercise and if you are in a leadership role, I really advise that you give that kind of thing a go, because I think everyone walked out feeling a bit lighter.

I just have to deal with my guilt now, because every time I look at my boss I can’t help but think that I might have hurt her yesterday…

Much Love

Rachel xx

6 thoughts on “criticism is hard to give

  1. Margot Kinberg

    No matter who it is, it’s hard to give criticism, Rachel. As you say, most of us don’t want to hurt others. But I like the idea of creating a safe atmosphere for subordinates to share things that need to change. As long as the criticism isn’t a personal insult or something, people should have the opportunity to ask for what they feel they need. I’m glad you had that chance. And there is no reason to feel guilty.

  2. clcouch123

    When teaching writing, I learned to write narrative comments to students about their essays in a pattern that began by identifying something working really well (there was and is always something) and then saying what should be changed or revised or corrected. I guess I’ve tended to keep this pattern when writing comments of any kind for anyone. I guess I over-worry diplomacy and, yes, hurting others or even reaping the whirlwind.

  3. theresaly520

    I think of how easily my mother dishes out criticism. As an adult, I know she does it out of love and a desire to help me improve. I can’t say it was always easy being on the receiving end of it, but in the long run, I think it was helpful for me.

    1. patientandkindlove

      Yes, I think that as long as it’s given with love then it can be positive. It’s still an uncomfortable thing to do, especially when you have not got much experience of delivering it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.