It's not always easy to give someone negative feedback, especially when you have to do it over email. If you can't explain your feedback in person, this one little word can keep it from sounding too harsh.
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Nobody likes to be told they're doing something wrong, especially not in a workplace. Some people dislike it more than others; they may feel anger or embarrassment when they are being criticised, by their peers or their superiors. But feedback is an important part of professional development and learning to deal with criticism -- rather than stewing over it -- will contribute to a more fruitful career.
Van Gogh may now be widely recognised as one of the most influential and creative artists of all time, but he died alone and penniless. Why? Because 100 years ago his canvas' were seen as the hallucinatory original works of a sociopathic recluse. It wasn't until years later, when other artists and critics had defined a new aesthetic criteria for art, that his works were accepted as creative masterpieces.
The "sandwich" method of feedback, where you squish criticism between compliments to smooth it over, is played out and everyone knows it. Most of us cringe when we hear someone suggest it, and even when it works, it's obvious. Adam Grant, author and professor, says it's time to just give it up, and we agree.
No matter what you do for a living, at some point or another you're going to have to communicate how you feel about someone else's work. On the surface, giving feedback may sound easy. However, when you're put on the spot -- whether it's to share your thoughts on a new website design or on a colleague in a 360 review -- the moments we're asked to give feedback can be tough.
Constructive criticism is a pretty awesome tool for figuring out how to improve your efforts. At the same time, criticism might say more about the person giving it than it does your own work. It can be helpful to remember this if you have trouble taking criticism too personally.
Self-awareness is important. It can help you figure out how to hone certain skills, adapt to situations and make better decisions. To understand yourself a little better, make a habit of asking for regular feedback.
Nobody likes getting criticism, which is silly. Criticism is a great way to improve yourself. If you want to get better feedback, and improve your reaction to it, respond to criticism with a heartfelt "Thank you."
It's easy to assume that pointing out a mistake constitutes as feedback, and it does to an extent. But that's similar to telling your partner it's raining outside and not handing them an umbrella. Feedback is instructive language that positively influences behaviour. It has an assumed intrinsic benefit: it provides knowledge on how to improve what we do and how we do it. It helps us grow and become better.
Even your closest friend might say something that offends you. Whether you think it was unintentionally insensitive or a bluntly phrased form of feedback, you should ask for clarification on what your friend really meant to say. Otherwise, if you leave the incident hanging in the air, you might grow to resent your friend.