Delivering positive feedback? Easy. Delivering negative feedback? Not so easy. It’s a topic that comes up often in coaching conversations because it comes up often in life. HBR Editor, Sarah Green, offered tips for delivering negative feedback in a recent blog post. My favorites? Here are the top three:
In my opinion the #1 rule is to ask permission first. “May I give you some feedback?” provides an opportunity for the recipient to prepare to receive—to hear—what you have to say.
#2 – ask yourself, “for what purpose?”
Before you deliver negative feedback, ask yourself, “for what purpose?” and let the answers drive what comes next. Setting the intention for what you want as the outcome from the conversation makes a difference. You’ll be rewarded when you take the time to consider, in advance, what you’ll say and let it be driven by the impact you want to have.
#3 – mind the gap with coaching style
A leader who uses the coaching style (one of the most effective styles of leadership) will keep in mind the facts and ideal outcome. That leader will employ questions to create an opening for the person to recognize “the gap” on their own.
One reader provided a terrific example, describing a time when the boss delivered criticism: “He told me what he saw, then he described the expectation and let me recognize the difference myself.” The manager shared an observation and then created an opening by commenting, “this isn’t usual for you, what’s going on?”
The result? The employee felt “room to give my truthful explanation,” and “heard when he gave me room to point out that things did snowball on me, and there were genuine issues precipitating the avalanche.” The manager and employee agreed to better communication in the future.
Feedback is a gift, and though it doesn’t always feel like it, there are pearls of wisdom and the opportunity for growth from the most uncomfortable experiences. Delivered well, it can benefit both the giver and the receiver.