“It’s going to be a difficult conversation”… it makes you cringe just reading the words.
We all have to have those discussions. You’ve got something to say to someone and it isn’t all positive and glowing.
You know you need to address it but you don’t want things to get ugly.
With a bit of thought, giving feedback doesn’t have to be painful.
Whether you need to offer feedback on someone’s behaviour or you’re offering feedback on creative work, you can do it in a way that is open, inclusive and productive.
Is it Feedback or is it Criticism
Consider the difference between these two words.
Feedback is informative; it’s grounded in things you can both observe. Its goal is to improve the situation.
Criticism is the expression of disapproval and the goal is to point out perceived faults or mistakes.
Feedback is less emotional and it’s based on your analysis of the situation.
Criticism is your opinion and is usually judgemental.
Before you start your conversation, frame what you want to say as feedback, look for the facts that both of you can observe and discuss. Remember, your goal is to improve the situation, not prove your superiority.
Define the problem, don’t jump to the solution
The next challenge is to define the problem or issue.
We are all solution oriented but this isn’t the moment to leap in with the answer, even if it’s obvious to you.
Focus on what the issue is or what problem it causes.
For example if someone is always late to work, talk to them about why that’s an issue. Don’t leap in with your belief they should get up earlier.
If the team have forgotten to mention the major product features in the script, point out what’s missing. Try to restrain from suggesting they could wedge a product shot between the first and second scenes.
The person you are offering feedback to will be much more receptive, and see you in a positive light, if you let them come up with their own solutions, now that you’ve highlighted the problem.
5 ways to make your feedback great
Stay Positive –
Start your conversation with what is working.
Keep it real –
Discuss things that are tangible that you can both observe. Base it on facts.
Stick to what you’re commenting on –
If they’ve asked you to look at their concept or idea, don’t pick at the grammar.
Keep it conversational–
A two way discussion keeps people from getting defensive and allows them to ask you questions.
It’s not personal –
Criticism stings, it is personal. Feedback is about making things better and it doesn’t harm the relationship.
It takes a little preparation and a lot of practice to get good at this. However, the results will be amazing. You’ll get what you need without big drama, cold shoulders or defensiveness.
When you’ve mastered the art of feedback, you’ll discover that it builds relationships; people feel cared about and sense your interest. They won’t be shooting lasers at you or start twitching when you walk their direction and that’s got to be a good thing.
To build your skills ask about my Art of Feedback Workshop for your team. We explore these approaches with live examples, discuss the success equation in feedback, consider how suggestions can become commands and discover how to accept feedback with grace.
For another way into a difficult conversation have a look at this post: Say What if you want insight into an issue