We may be in a wonderful mood only to enter the workplace or home and be met by a scowl, a frown, or negative remark from a coworker or family member. How quickly one’s positive state of well being can dissipate. For example, if I walk into the house in a good mood and my mother, or my wife, or my husband, immediately barrages me with a list of things that I didn’t take care of, or criticizes me for chores I didn’t accomplish to their satisfaction, I will find the experience a clear interruption of my positive state of being. However, if someone were to gently say, “Can you give me a few minutes? I want to go over some of the chores we had agreed to split,” or “I want to check with you as to what has been done or what has not been done,” then I may be able to maintain not only my state of well being, but be in a good enough mood to help improve the other person.
A speaker once compared giving constructive criticism to that of a sandwich. The first slice of bread is telling the person something honest and positive about that person. The filling consists of gently leading into a suggestion or sharing ones’ feelings about how something is being done. The second slice of bread again finishes with positive reaction or remark to that person. How desperately most of us need to practice the art of positive criticism.