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What exactly are you criticizing, Mr Monday Morning Basher?

Nobody likes to be criticized.

Receiving feedback or constructive criticism, yes but being criticized?

Emphatic NO!


Boss giving feedback that is criticism

Bossy feedback


By being too critical, the message is lost on the receiver who hears the bad parts and goes into defensive mode. Even if there is some truth in the criticism, it gets lost in the communication and instead of improved performance; conflicts grow which only hamper productivity both for the individual and the organization.

I once had a manager who specialized in the art of de-motivating criticism. To be fair, he was good at the job for which he was employed and one actually learned a lot from him. I guess this was an extra qualification!

The other nice thing about Manager was that he was democratic in meting out Monday Morning Bashing. The team was bonded by confusion and analysis sessions post bashing. I leave it to the reader to figure out how productive our Mondays were!

Somewhere along the line, Manager must have learned about sandwiching criticism, so the dialogue would have gone like this

Manager  “Good morning, You did a great job getting out the report on Friday”


Subordinate “Thank you, I did my best”


Manager “You met the deadline but it was the worst report I have ever read, it is blah blah. Everyone says it is this that and the other” (and lots of generalizations)


Subordinate (In stunned silence trying to figure out what is being said)


Manager  “Well, do better next time. Keep up the good work”.

The above dialogue is a sanitized version of what actually used to happen.


When I joined the department, I was stunned the first few times and coped thanks to the camaraderie of old veterans of Monday Morning Bashing who were supportive. I was advised to ignore it and just focus on my work. Going to Human Resources was not considered an option because Manager exercised great clout with the higher ups. Those who could not handle it left for greener pastures.

I must have gotten out from the wrong side of my bed one Monday because I found my voice during my allotted session. Saturated beyond my limits, I asked a simple question

“What exactly have I done wrong? Please give me an example”

Manager flustered and went into generalizations but by now I was not in the mood to let go and politely but firmly kept repeating my request, like a broken record, for specific examples.

I think Manager got the message because my sessions were always shorter and sometimes I did get feedback for improvement. Others who followed the same method noticed the difference in their sessions too.


The Art of Negative Inquiry to Tackle Criticism


We had stumbled upon the art of using negative inquiry to tackle criticism. In other words, we wanted to hear more negative talk. We were willing to listen but retained the right to agree or disagree. We were tired of listening to vague and obtuse criticism and wanted to get to the specifics of any problem and then deal with the problem. Negative inquiry is an assertiveness skill that has you do exactly the opposite of what you naturally feel like doing in the face of criticism. Instead of going on the defensive, you try to get to the real issue which is bothering the criticizer.

A good strategy is to firstly listen to the criticism. Then absorb it by either agreeing with the criticism or the principle. Then seek clarifications without getting upset or going on the defensive.

Some great clarification questions/requests that you could consider using include


Could you please give me a specific example?


Please tell me more; I want to understand this better


What specifically/exactly did I do?

When asked to offer clarification, the criticizer has to step back and take on the burden of explaining himself better. Like  Fogging, the critic might actually back off since it is quite exhausting to continue criticizing someone who is not reacting in the manner the critic would like.  It might also lead to getting more information to reach the crux of the matter and finding a solution with minimum conflict and bad blood.

Have you experienced the Monday Morning Basher treatment? How would you suggest an employee handle it? Do share your views in the comments box below!


Being Assertive is easier when you have a good sense of self-confidence and high self-esteem which is what I teach you in my Kindle book Self Confidence in 8 Steps.

Learn more about my Self-Study Signature Program by clicking the image of the book below. The book is available in all Amazon markets.






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Meet your coach

I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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