Delivering negative feedback or criticism is rarely easy.  Receiving it may be even more difficult.  But researchers at University of Toronto found that how people receive criticism depends greatly on the source.  

Through field and lab experiments, they discovered that when negative feedback comes from a boss or a peer, the receiver’s creativity level drops.  The researchers concluded that, as one might expect, the leader-follower dynamic is at the center of this reaction.  When a peer criticizes, the culprit might be the competitive nature of the relationship.  But when someone of lower rank gives negative feedback, creativity increased, likely because there is no real threat.

Data aside, giving feedback is necessary for progress.  If you’re in a leadership role, it’s one of the most important aspects of your job.  The key is understanding that your criticism can directly influence another’s ability to think creatively.  So, be discrete and sensitive.


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