How To Give Negative Feedback Without Hurting Any Feelings

We all know how hard it is to be told something negative – it can be heartbreaking, disappointing and sometimes, downright cruel. So when you have to be the one giving the negative feedback, it can be scary and intimidating. But never fear, once again we will help you avoid making others feel disheartened in ways we all have (sadly) experienced before!

Start With An Honest Compliment

It’s always difficult to start a conversation like this. You sit someone down, or ask if you can have a word with them – this makes it awkward and tense from the get-go. Instead of beating around the bush, just be honest as to why you need to talk, and make sure they know you aren’t mad or agitated – compliment them on something else that they are awesome at. Try not to use the word ‘but’ – it makes the recipient feel as if they should get defensive and defend what they did wrong. Be honest, open and kind and the recipient shouldn’t feel bad about your comments!

Make It About What Not Who

When discussing with someone their mistake or wrongdoing, the best thing to concentrate on is what they did wrong, rather than them as a person. If you start to spiral off the topic and tell them more than one thing they’re doing wrong, you’re making it about them as a person rather than the feedback you should be giving. Concentrate on the subject at hand and don’t get personal (even if you want to)!

Make The Feedback A Two-Way Thing

When having this type of conversation, it’s always good to let the other person know you are open to criticism too. Ask them if there is anything that you do or a certain approach you have to things that they are unsure or not keen on, and let them be able to open up to you as you have to them. This will make the other person feel that you aren’t singling them out and setting them up to make them feel bad – let them know you are open for change and a new perspective too!

Don’t Pile Up Feedback

Make sure that you deal with feedback as soon as you can. The worst thing you can do is leave it a while, then give someone a long list of everything they are doing wrong a month later! Changes in behaviour will be easier for someone to make when they are only given one thing to consider changing – not five!

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Be Kind

It’s necessary sometimes to give people some advice but do it nicely. Put yourself in the position of the other person, and choose your words carefully. You don’t want to be trying to help someone and end up doing more bad than worse! Be positive and kind, and help whoever you are addressing take something positive from what you’ve said, and help them to focus on some new goals or a different attitude. Kill them with kindness as they say!

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Photo: Josefin Dahlberg