It can be extremely difficult to provide negative feedback to others in the workplace. It is a delicate process and impacts both parties involved. In this blog post we discuss strategies for delivering feedback to others in a well-meaning manner. The aim being to make the process of giving others constructive feedback positive, empathetic and growth orientated.
Being the message bearer of negative feedback can evoke anxiety and fear and rightly so. In the historical context, there are many situations were the messenger delivering unfavourable news was unfairly blamed or punished for the content itself. Recipients of the feedback may perceive it as a personal attack and become defensive. This exercise takes into account the importance of considering other peoples emotions while packaging the information as an opportunity for growth, ensuring that both parties view the communication as constructive and beneficial to themselves and the company they serve. The following steps could be used as a guide to give negative feedback in a constructive manner:
1. Work on accepting the emotional discomfort that may arise when giving feedback. Practice some type of mindfulness process prior to giving the feedback so that we are present in the body, attune to the present moment and relaxed. Next provide the feedback in a friendly, safe and quiet space, free of distractions.
2. Clarify to the receiver of the information your intention before you begin. For instance, “We are here today to find ways to work together to improve their work, which promotes a respectful two-way dialogue”.
3. Next, separate the person’s work from the person themselves. We are trying to avoid the feedback to become personal. Let them know that this feedback is not about themselves or who they are as a person. It is just 100% about your work.
4. Communicate that your comments are based upon your care for the work itself, because the work matters to the organization, but that this is an opportunity for growth and development. Praise the receiver for anything they do well and reinforce the notion that you whole-heartedly believe in the receiver’s ability for improvement.
5. Communicate in a manner that assists the receiver understand that your opinions are subjective, giving room for different perspectives and opinions in the conversation. For instance, say things such as “In my opinion…” or “I believe that.”
6. Conclude the conversation with emphasis on the employees positive attributes and what they are doing good at in their position.