6 tips for delivering criticism

CriticismAt some point you’ll likely have to give someone negative feedback, which is neither easy nor pleasant. When somebody messes up or doesn’t live up to expectations, feedback is important so they can improve, but the criticism must be delivered in a proper way so the receiver takes it to heart. Here are some tips for giving negative feedback from Minda Zetlin, writing at Inc.:

1. Do it in a timely manner. Try to give your feedback within 24 hours, because it will have less impact the longer you wait. If you’re feeling emotional about the issue, sleep on it and plan your dialogue to avoid an outburst that could make the situation worse.

2. Ask permission before giving feedback. Start with a question like “Can we talk about what just happened?” or “Can I share an observation?” If the person says “no” then forget it, because your opinion will fall on deaf ears.

3. Avoid assigning blame. Rather than starting out with a phrase like “You were late with that report,” share your understanding of the situation. Say something like “It was my understanding that the report was due Feb. 1, but you finished it Feb. 6. What happened?”

4. Share how it makes you feel. Describe the person’s behavior and how it makes you feel when they do it. For example, “When you’re late with reports, I feel stressed out because my work falls behind.”

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5. Describe the consequences of their bad behavior. It’s important for people to know what effect their mistake had. “When your report is late, it causes X, Y and Z to happen.” It’s possible the person doesn’t know that anything bad happens because of their behavior.

6. Ask what they will do to correct the problem in the future. Even if you already know what has to happen to avoid it next time, let the other person tell you their plan. Ask “How can we avoid this happening again?” or “Is there anything you need so this doesn’t happen again?”

— Adapted from “How Emotionally Intelligent People Give Negative Feedback,” Minda Zetlin, Inc.