In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott describes feedback in this way: Positive feedback should help people know what success looks like. It should “communicate explicitly what is valued and give people a chance to repeat success. It is not about making people feel good.” On the other hand, constructive feedback should “help people know what to do better”. It should help them understand how to get to success if they have not done so already.
It takes a great deal of courage to give honest feedback. The act of giving feedback can be laden with what Liane Davey, co-founder of 3COze, Inc., calls “anxiety interest,” particularly when it involves a tough message. The longer you put off giving feedback that makes you uncomfortable, the more you will pay in anxiety.
The key is to remain objective by stating the facts. Focus on the behavior and not the person or their personality. What did the person say, or do? What was the impact of their behavior on the process, you, the team and others? What does the corrected version of the situation look like? The more honest your communication, the greater the level of trust you will develop.
Additionally, there is bound to be emotion with the delivery of a tough feedback. Liane Davey reminds us, “The worst thing you can do after delivering an uncomfortable message is to end the conversation too quickly. If you leave while things are still fully charged, the dread will transfer to the next interaction. Let the conversation continue for a little while, until you’ve returned to a normal tenor.
Think of feedback as a gift. Give it with compassion and sensitivity and receive it with gratitude and thanks.