Conquer Conflict At Work/Responding Professionally to Public Criticism

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Responding Professionally to Public Criticism

Scripts to Respond Professionally to Public Criticism while you take time to consider how you will address the issue after.

Responding Professionally to Public Criticism

So You Don't Lose Your $hit on Someone

Have you ever felt criticized publicly at work?

Perhaps a colleague commented on your "poor technique" in front of your patients or "joked" about your incompetence in front of others (ouch!)

These are the moments that can put individuals on the defensive, resulting in escalating conflict and tension on a team. Even the most experienced communicator and leader in the room can feel blindsided by comments and feel unsure of how to respond.

But is being criticized in front of others at work one of the worst things that can happen?

ūü§∑ Maybe

The impact of an offensive comment has more to do with how you choose to respond to the criticism, both in the moment and in follow up.
One of the most significant challenges is the "in the moment" response. It is the age old question ... what do I say when?

This question is rooted in the fight or flight defensive reaction we have to situations that are offensive and take us off guard.

Having a standard scripted response that you can use in situations just like this will position you as a confident communicator, capable of handling difficult situations.

In this way, public criticism is an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and graceful leadership with just a few select words.

What Does Not work

I understand how the fight/flight/freeze response can have you feeling uncertain and on edge, but being reactive to these insults moves you away from a professional image. Here are three things that don't work:

  • ‚ÄčPretending you didn't hear it and just keep moving on (while secretly dying inside)
  • ‚ÄčIgnoring them ... forever
  • ‚ÄčSnapping back with something that is equally unprofessional in front of the patient and or colleagues (and letting it fester for weeks only to later regret the way things went down)

Tell me if this sounds familiar

You are completing your bedside patient assessment and care when your colleague pops their head into the room. She is not happy and you can tell by her stance that she has something to say. Before you can ask her, you hear her disgusted and disappointed tone of voice as she pointedly asks ‚Äúwhat is taking you so long, you should have been out of here already. The standard is eight minutes per assessment, and you have been in here for 15!‚ÄĚ

Your patient looks at the nurse at the door, then looks back at you. They may be wondering if you are capable of providing the care they need while at the same time wondering if you will say anything.

This is the moment where a rehearsed scripted response is useful.

Removing the worry of "what to say when" allows you to respond in a professional manner while you collect yourself.
Your Go To Script for Public Criticism

I have several scripts you can choose from in the 50 Powerful Scripts to End Offensive Behaviors that you can select from when it comes to unwanted criticism. Click on the image to access a copy.

In this weeks video Courageous Conversations, I share why I selected this particular script for the scenario and the many benefits. I also offer several additions you can pair with this script to double down on the impact and influence. This week's script in focus:

This conversation would be better in a private setting so we can resolve this issue without it negatively impacting the team

Watch how I use this script in the video below

Why I Love This Script

  • ‚ÄčIt communicates your preferred way of having these types of conversations ... in private! This is also known as a boundary.
  • ‚ÄčIt calls out unprofessional behavior without telling them ‚Äúthat was unprofessional‚ÄĚ
  • ‚ÄčIt addresses the offensive comment in the moment so you stay in control and do not react in ways you will regret later.
  • ‚Äč

Responding in a professional manner does not mean you have to resolve the issue in the moment. Sometimes you need some space to consider the experience and what you really want.

Last week I talked about The Graceful Method, and the important of understanding your end goal before having a difficult conversation. This 5 step process is a Quick Start Guide to being more confident when responding to difficult situations with the grace and confidence that aligns with your core values.

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