In short, the best performance comes from being supportive and encouraging, providing praise for doing the best one can, and offering specific suggestions on what to do to perform even better in the future. Then, that can lead to an even bigger reward and celebration. And along the way, coaches, like bosses, should provide praise for milestones reached, so the athlete or employee will want to strive for the next one — not fear the possibility of being put down once again, while striving as hard as possible, for turning in a performance below the goal the coach or boss has set. That’s because destructive negative criticism can initiate the beginning of a vicious cycle downward, as an unwarranted criticism of a performance leads to a poorer performance in the future due to fear. By contrast, a supportive inspiring boss or coach is more likely to inspire the athlete or employee to do much better, because they are motivated by the hope of achieving a great performance, not held back by the fear of failing to achieve.
Nevertheless, even if an athlete or employee is faced with such a bad coach or boss, there are things they can do to overcome such disparaging criticism, such as using self-talk or affirmations to avoid taking the comments personally and to build up their self-esteem. In her book, “A Survival Guide to Wroking with Bad Bosses,” Gini Graham Scott provides tips for employees on what to do when faced with all kinds of bad bosses, including those who are overly critical like coach Rick Suhr. A Web site for the book, which includes sample chapters and a quiz on how bad is your boss, is at www.badbosses.net.