Refrain from judgement and criticism

In the final part of my multi week exploration of Self Determination Theory I turn to a practice that many of us struggle with, refraining from judgment and criticism. I particularly value this ability as it became a force multiplier for other practices. If you want your employees to give you their opinions and perspectives, or involve them in decision making, you would be wise to refrain from judgment and criticism otherwise you're shutting them down instead of building them up.


Being a leader means you have to give feedback so where you have to, keep these steps in mind:

Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.

Instead of leading with “you,” try to start your criticism with “I.” For example, instead of saying, “You always interrupt me when I am talking,” say something like, “I feel frustrated when I am talking and I get interrupted.”


Speak informationally

Use factual language not emotive. Instead of saying, "that meeting was a disaster" you might say, "That didn't go as we had hoped..." Avoiding words that are value laden which are likely to trigger a defensive response, replace with words that will soften how the feedback lands.



Assume positive intent In any situation you face, ask yourself what the person you are interacting with is trying to accomplish and see what the most positive interpretation of their behavior is. There is a big difference between intention and effect. Even if the way the communication is delivered is terrible is the intention behind the communication positive?


Ask yourself how is my judgment a reflection of myself

The most powerful relationships are built off respect, and we can only give adequate amounts of respect after fully hearing and understanding another's story. The vast majority of respectful and rational opinions about other human beings are formed after learning where these people have come from, what they have been through, and the struggles they have faced in order to get to where they are today. (see Show genuine interest in each employee).

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