Behavioral Scale Deep Dive: High Criticality

Criticality: The desire to be critical of people and things, and to pick them apart in great detail. 

Do you like to poke holes in ideas? Are you often critical of others’ motives? If so, you may be a high scorer in criticality. Let’s take a look at the behavioral traits of someone with a high score in criticality and what managers can do to best encourage their growth.  

High Criticality

Meet Jade. Jade is a software engineer who’s always analyzing systems and their potential flaws. In meetings, she’s always the first one to point out a potential problem with an approach and thoroughly thinks through every possible scenario a project could go. Sometimes her coworkers get frustrated because she constantly picks apart their ideas and rarely has any positive feedback to give.

Jade is a good example of someone who likely has a high criticality score. She:

  • Evaluates ideas, initiatives, motives, relationships, etc.
  • Typically doesn’t “blindly” accept anything new that comes along
  • Tends to think things through
  • Often pokes holes in ideas and looks at the consequences of poorly thought out ideas. 

Tips for Managing High Scorers

Although high scorers in criticality can be great analyzers to have on a team, sometimes their skepticism can have negative consequences in their personal and work life.  At times, high scorers in criticality can be perceived as negative, pessimistic, impatient, fault-finding, insensitive, and judgmental. 

Whether you’re a manager of a high criticality scorer or wanting to learn how to better understand a colleague’s behavior, here are some ideas on how to effectively manage this behavioral trait. 

Recommendations for High Scorers: 

  • Their first reaction to new ideas is typically negative. Encourage them to try to keep their negativity to themself. If this discipline is practiced, new ideas will continue to come forward, and people will be more likely to include them.
  • Encourage them to make at least three positive comments for every negative comment they make.
  • Well thought through ideas, accuracy, and honest feedback motivate high scorers in Criticality.
  • Don’t be afraid to defend your ideas with confidence. If you can make a case for why you did something, make it in an assured, respectful way instead of lashing back at a critical employee’s criticisms.
  • Encourage them to practice being kind instead of being right.

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