So, what is the one thing I recommend to respond to criticism when you are managing change and short of time?
- Listen patiently and attentively, searching for evidence that supports their criticism.
- If you disagree, share the facts—not opinions—that support your point of view.
- If you have the best information, move on; if not, adjust your presentation accordingly.
It makes sense that people have different views on what needs to be done, because major change initiatives are generally built on assumptions and incomplete knowledge. Expect criticism.
Try to make sure that your plans and recommendations are better researched than the ones from those who challenge them. The best response to critics is to ask for facts that support their view. Responding with “Tell me more” or “That’s interesting, based on what evidence?” will invite the person to share his or her rationale. If the rationale is not strong, you can present your justification and move on. If their idea is right, acknowledge the new information and say you’ll incorporate it into your work. In the long run, they’ve done you a favour.
Sometimes people make up information to support their concerns. Viewpoints can appear factual when said with authority and confidence. Asking critics to support their contentions with empirical evidence generally separates truth from fiction.
PRESENTATION PREPARATION TOOL: What criticisms might someone raise about my work (presentation, progress made, etc.)?
Anticipating criticisms and rehearsing your responses to them will avoid emotional responses when you are asked to defend your views.