Constructive Feedback

Delivery of constructive feedback is important. If it is negative, there can be challenges as you will not want to hurt people's feelings, unnecessarily. However, you need to address the issues and not remain silent.

If handled correctly, you have the chance to help someone and improve your workplace culture.

Suitable strategies include

- praise the person twice before mentioning something that is out of character, ie negative feedback. The first praise will get the person's attention; the second praise will make them more receptive and better able to handle the negative feedback.

- initially express your good intentions. This can help people, ie use words like

"...'I want the best for you'......' I want you to be successful, and right now, I see something getting in the way of your success'......before making any unwelcome comment, the other person will hear it differently and perceived the feedback giver as more likeable..."
Therese Huston, 2021

It is a simple reframing. This involves assuming that you are acting in good faith.

Some examples

- if the person tends to ramble on, you could say

"...I want to make sure people listen to you in meetings because your ideas are incredibly insightful, but right now, I think some people tune out..."
Therese Huston, 2021

eg people are checking their phones and e-mails while you are talking

- if a person tells 'off-colour' jokes, you could say

"... I want to make sure people respect you and feel safe around you. You bring so much to this team. But I overheard you tell a joke yesterday that could have offended some people..."
Therese Huston, 2021

Sometimes you can feel a bit awkward saying these things. However it has been found that people are more likely to respond positively to the feedback

Some ways people respond to messages they don't want to hear

- tendency to 'shoot the messenger' of bad news

- the receiver of the bad news can feel a personal dislike to the giver of news when they are criticised

- they can assume that the person making the comments has ulterior, often malevolent, motives

"...it comes down to human nature. Research shows that when someone offers unsolicited negative feedback and we're left guessing at their intentions, we tend to assume malevolent ones. But when recipients of unwelcome news believe that the other person has good intentions, they are much less likely to reject the criticism..."
Therese Huston, 2021

 

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