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How to Make Your Feedback Helpful vs. Hurtful

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

When someone tells you that something you are doing at work isn’t right, you may feel pretty bad about it. But does it really have to be so bad?

Four things that makes feedback helpful vs. hurtful

When your boss (or any other feedback giver) takes a positive, helpful approach, it feels way better. Here are the four things that a feedback giver can do make the biggest difference in your work life:

  1. Show genuine concern for you

  2. Tell you about it early on

  3. Explain exactly how to turn it around &

  4. Recognize your strengths as well

When you’re the one giving feedback, what’s best for the employee or co-worker?

First of all, it’s so great that you are sharing feedback. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and compare getting the feedback vs. not getting the feedback. You wouldn’t want to be blindsided. You are showing your concern by letting the other person know. This is a very big deal!

Second, give it right away! If you give feedback early and often, you become MORE trusted as a manager. The managers who are resented are the ones who surprise people with negative judgements after it’s too late to improve the way they’re doing things. More than 80% of bosses and co-workers delay their feedback for weeks or months, and you are doing a way better job.

Third, explain, in terms that the other person can understand, how to fix the problem. Test for their understanding and involve them in a discussion of even better solutions.

And fourth, build trust by authentically recognizing the person’s strengths. If the strengths being mentioned ring true, that person is much more likely to “hear” the suggestions about what needs improvement. And these positive feedback conversations should start before the the corrective conversations even come up. The person will know that you see them fully and know what the are contributing to your shared goals.

Doesn’t sound so awful now, does it?…

Not only are you actually helping the feedback receiver, but you are calming down any anxiety you have about “breaking the bad news.” You see yourself as a helping partner in the great things that are to come!

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