If You Love Them, Level with Them (2)
When you confront somebody, be specific, and don’t generalise. For example, don’t say, ‘You’re always abrupt and unfriendly.’ Instead, being specific, say, ‘I feel you were rather abrupt with Mrs Jones yesterday.’ Generalisations sound and feel like an attack on who the person is, instead of constructive reproof [discussion] on what the person does. Plus, vague generalisations don’t give the learner a clue what he or she should do now to grow and change. Remember to show empathy. An effective mentor always tries to put themselves in the learner’s place. Writer John Erskine observed, ‘We have not really budged a step... until we’ve taken up residence in someone else’s point of view.’ Assure them that you’re their advocate, not their adversary, and that your only desire is to see them succeed. Why do people have such a hard time accepting and processing criticism? Because they get caught up in a shame spiral, going all the way back to their childhood. They never felt valued, they felt like they were always being criticised and told how useless and stupid they were, and now they instinctively give too much power to criticism. Only when you understand that will you be able to approach them the right way. Build on their strengths, gifts and character through encouragement. Earn the right to confront. Make sure you affirm 97% of the time, so that when it’s time to be tough in the remaining 3%, your love and encouragement will be believed. How will a person know you’re on his or her side if the only words they hear you say are negative ones?