The Art of Scolding and Smiling


It’s been said that for every one corrective criticism you bring up you must offset that by also bringing up SEVEN positive features of that person.  That you have to almost over compensate for the negative that needs addressing so you don’t lower the self-image of that person.  How exhausting!  It’s almost as if a leader has to powder the bottom of grown people in order to correct their behavior.  Let me tell you, this is ridiculous.

I agree that you should have many more positive things to say than negative things.  Eventually however, you will have to correct someone’s behavior or actions.  Let’s say, as an example that someone needs to spend less time at the water cooler gossiping.  Implementing the suggested advice of one negative to seven positives you say,

Matthew, I need you to get back to work and stop the demeaning talk about other people.  It seems to be tearing people down.  We are about building people up here.  You know when you intentionally try to build the self-image of others you are magnificent. People look up to you because you are a true people person.  No one is better than you.  When you put your mind to it you get a lot of work done and people follow your lead.  You are a real influencer and you are smart enough to realize that. Now let’s get back to work.”


What a mouth full.  And it’s for a person who is gossiping at the water cooler instead of working.  You give this kind of idle lip service to everyone and eventually your compliments will fall on deaf ears.  They will realize what you are doing.  People will begin to stop taking you seriously.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to tell them to cut it out and get back to work without it crushing their ego?


How would you like to say what you really thought without having to dance around a topic?


Well I have developed a way to confront people without it being confrontational.  I call it The Art of Scolding and Smiling.  A few years ago, I was watching a manager confront his people on a variety of situations that could have started many fights and arguments.  The thing that was so remarkable was the people the manager was COLD BUSTING didn’t get angry or defensive.  If anything, they were even more drawn to the manager’s personality.  All lines of communication were open and things were handled smoothly and quickly.  It was amazing.  He would scold someone for their actions and smile while doing it.  He even managed to raise his voice and still no recoil from the employees.

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11 thoughts on “The Art of Scolding and Smiling

  1. […] Information about managing difficult people. […]

  2. I like the one word response:


  3. chriscashell says:

    Reblogged this on Project Delivery and Team Building and commented:
    Great piece as I have seen some who always have anger in their word and it does mean people close up

  4. I use the “are you trying to kill me?” frequently. I’ll have to try the “do you enjoy watching me suffer?” next!
    Beyond that – this is a great lesson. The Owner told me the other day “You say stuff all the time and you don’t stop to think if it will hurt my feelings, but that’s the way it is supposed to be, that’s why you run the company” and – uh – that’s not the way it’s supposed to be! So apparently with him, I need to work on my statements!! Great reminder. Thanks!

  5. Ray's Mom says:

    Some living south of the Mason-Dixon refer to Southern Diplomacy as telling someone to go straight to H*** in such a way that they thank you kindly for the direction… it is not until hours later that they realize they have been chastised.

  6. […] sure you smile after you say this. (See The Art of Smiling and Scolding). Then move on as if the negative comment wasn’t made. As long as you refuse to get caught up in […]

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