When the coach of an NHL hockey team was asked at a post-game conference what he thought of his goaltender’s big mistake that cost the team the game, he did not fall for the bait.

Instead of criticizing the player, this coach said the goal was probably one that his goaltender probably would have wanted back.

Direct criticism has the effect of firing up the instinct to defend ourselves.

But indirect criticism like the words of this coach allow those being criticized to be less defensive and more willing to listen.