When it comes to expressing criticism, the English don’t exactly have a reputation for telling it like it is. 😉 A pretty indirect style of communication with lots of downgraders (a little, slightly, sort of) and understatement helps to soften the blow … and can obscure the message completely.
Here’s a light-hearted look at what you might hear and what the speaker is actually thinking.
It’s not quite what I had in mind.
I must admit I was expecting something slightly different.
What the speaker is really thinking: What have you done? It’s nothing like what I asked for.
I’m a little disappointed to see that you’ve …
“A little disappointed”? That’s the understatement of the year! His feelings are more along the lines of: How could you do that? We agreed on something completely different!
It’s a step in the right direction.
In fact her thoughts are: Ok, deep breath, must be positive. It’s a start, I suppose. But there’s still a hell of a long way to go.
I’m not sure I’d have done it that way myself.
I’ve never seen it done like that before.
That was certainly an interesting / original way of …
What’s actually going through the speaker’s mind here is: Where on earth did you get the idea to do it like that?
You might like to consider …
Perhaps you could think about …
If either of these come from your boss, they’re probably not real suggestions. The message you should be hearing is: Go back to your desk and do it.
Those were just a few examples. Have you got any others that you’d like to share?