Giving critical feedback isn’t the most comfortable thing for many. There’s a bit of apprehension around it – what if the other person feels bad, what if it doesn’t land well, what if the relationship gets strained because of this and so on. Here’s one golden tip that will not just make giving easy but also receiving for the other person.
Observe the following sentences. Imagine someone saying these to you:
- You did not live up to your word.
- I was waiting to hear back from you but I haven’t yet.
- You don’t understand me at all.
- I somehow feel I am not understood here.
- You make me angry.
- I feel angry right now.
What did you notice? What’s the difference when you heard the first version versus the alternative statement?
When we start any critical statement with the word “YOU” – it appears like a direct attack. It can make the other person instantly defensive or upset. They might either go silent or attack you in reverse. Never start a critical statement with “you”. Instead of saying, ‘you are not listening’, it’s better to say, ‘I’d really appreciate if you could hear me out’ or ‘I am not feeling heard right now’. Always take responsibility for what you are feeling. And state the action that was missed in an indirect speech rather blaming the person for it.
What’s the point of it? Well, you are giving critical feedback so that things improve right? But if you don’t give it in a manner that is acceptable, then nothing will improve. Things will only get worse. We are not sugar-coating it or hiding the truth or saying an incorrect statement. We are still, in essence, saying the same thing but without attacking the other person. When we are respectful in how we say, others will find it easy to accept. You can always let them know the consequence too – that if this continues it will be hard to work together or things like that. But without the word ‘you’. Communicate your point. That’s what is important. Not the attack.
Also, you will find it easy to put your point across when you aren’t attacking. You won’t feel like a warrior with a sword, or a complaint box, or a victim. You will feel like a responsible adult, communicating an important matter of concern. Try it and see. It makes a huge difference. There are more tips too, for giving critical feedback, but let’s save them for another day. Let’s try this one first and notice the difference. 🙂
(Note – When you have to give critical feedback, try and reframe the sentences beforehand in your head so that it becomes easier for you while saying it).