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How often have you come across people upset about the way they received feedback- especially when it concerned some area they were failing in or it involved their pulling up their socks to perform.? Most people will tell you that they do not mind negative feedback or constructive criticism as a matter of principle. However, what they do mind is the manner in which it was delivered. Poorly given feedback can leave scars for much longer than you would imagine. Yet, feedback is valued if it helps us understand our shortcomings and overcome them.

It’s a great idea to begin giving feedback by making a neutral observation. Here, we state facts and share data without being judgmental in any way. We place facts on the table and set up a context for further conversation without blaming the person being given the feedback.

As I said, we begin with a neutral observation. Here are a few examples of what I mean:-

  • ” We met for the 5th time in the last 1 month to discuss our customer satisfaction figures. It has dropped from 94 % to 83% over the last one month” instead of saying ” You have really messed up our customer satisfaction. Do you realize how badly you have goofed?”
  • ” Analysis of my time shows that meetings have overrun for 80 % of the time by periods ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour” instead of saying” It is because of your talking too much that my meetings are all over the floor”.

Beginning with a netural observation sets the tone for the feedback as it is both non-judgemental and non-accusatory.

Try this the next time you need to give constructive criticism to someone- your coachee, team member, customer, vendor or a member of your family.

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This is Post No: 333 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.


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