Here are 5 simple steps to take when it is time to give someone difficult feedback:
1. Prepare ahead of time.
- Think about what specifically happened. What might have been his motivation or point of view? Try to see it from his point of view.
- Think about what you want and how you want things to change.
- Let him know it is a serious matter.
- Schedule time as soon after the incident as possible and in private.
2. State your observation. Describe the incident and be specific about the behavior that you are addressing.
- Be specific and objective. (“At our meeting yesterday, you said…”)
- If she interrupts, ask her to wait until you’re done.
- You’ll know you are being objective if she cannot argue with you about the facts. (“Well, yes, I did say that, but…”)
3. Tell what happened as a result of his behavior, including how it affected you personally.
- Be specific.
- “After you said (or did) that…”
- Be responsible for your own feelings. (“When you did that, I felt ….”)
- Knowing the personal cost of his actions is an impetus for change
4. Ask for the person’s views about your observation, outcome and/or assumptions. Then LISTEN.
- “This is how I see it and I’d like to know how it is for you.”
- Do not interrupt him. If he asks you a question, answer it briefly and then let him talk again.
- Let yourself be changed by what he says. Consider his side of things.
5. Ask for what you want different in the future.
- Make a proposal for the change you want. Be true to yourself.
- Do not wimp out at this point and say that everything is fine. It still isn’t fine.
As hard as it might be to confront a problem by giving feedback, remember that until you address the situation and ask for something different, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Good luck!