Often people choose not to offer feedback even though it would be useful in communicating with others. Instead, they avoid or overlook confrontations. They don’t want to make waves, or out of a lack of concern, don’t want to get involved.
Even though we may not be aware of it, we are all capable of harming people we care for. If a person is being irresponsible, it is your responsibility to confront that person. Tell the person about the behavior you observed and give the person an opportunity to recognize it. It takes a lot of practice to make a confrontation that is fair, accurate and shows concern. It is important to practice offering this feedback as well as accepting it.
1. Offer the person feedback out of genuine concern for the situation instead of complaining or looking for support from others. Rely on an outside observer only if a conflict develops.
2. Confront the person quietly, so as not to attract an audience, unless it is necessary at the time to prevent further hurtful behavior.
3. Don’t compare the person’s behavior with anyone else’s. Nobody wants to hear that they are inferior to others. This makes people not want to listen even if the feedback is meaningful.
4. Offer your feedback as soon as you can. Putting it off or not doing it makes the situation more difficult. Waiting allow you to build up feelings of resentment and insecurity.
5. Don’t repeat a point once you have made it and the other person has carefully considered it. Pushing a point will probably make the other person defensive and unwilling to listen.
6. Don’t put the other person down or on the defensive.
7. Object only to actions that the other person can change. Ask only what you have a right to ask for. You may ask the person not to shout, but if you ask them not to be angry with you, you’re probably asking too much.
8. Offer feedback about only one issue at a time. More than one is difficult for anyone to handle. Pick one behavior and stick to the point.
9. After offering your feedback out of concern, don’t apologize for it. Apology will only minimize what you have done. In other words, this will only lessen the effectiveness of what you had tried to do.
10. Don’t ‘soft-soap’ what you have to say. Get to the point, but remain caring in your behavior.
11. Don’t use sarcasm. It will only cause the other person to become angry or fearful. It will also cause you to feel more inadequate and fearful.
12. Avoid words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. The use of these words may prevent you from being accurate and truthful.
13. If you never compliment the person, don’t expect them to remain open to your criticism.
1. Remain silent while you are receiving feedback. Whether you agree or not is not an issue. This can be discussed later. Interrupting or voicing disapproval only complicates the matter and causes defensiveness.
2. Look directly at the person who is confronting you. Maintaining eye contact shows respect and indicates you’re listening to what is being said.
3. Under no condition find fault with the person offering you feedback. If they have made a mistake in grammar, or are using a bad approach, wait and tell the person after the confrontation has been made. Doing it at the time creates insecurities in the other person and keeps you from listening to what is being said and how it is being said.
4. Don’t create the impression that the other person is offending you. The hardest people to deal with are those who are defensive at first and who then, when cornered, act as though they are at the edge of despair. Acknowledge the confrontation and accept ownership.
5. Don’t exaggerate the feedback that you are being offered. If a person tells you that you were thoughtless, don’t blow it out of proportion by telling the person that you were vicious and then defend yourself against something you weren’t confronted about.
6. Don’t use negative jokes. It is hurtful behavior to someone who is trying to show you concern and creates bad feelings.
7. Don’t change the subject. Use your knowledge and understanding to help clarify the situation, not to cloud the issue. Deal only with the behavior at hand.