Giving good feedback is essential whether you are a multinational corporation or a one man show. The way you approach problems and deal proactively with others will have a huge effect on the future of your business. You will have to give feedback—both positive and negative—to investors, suppliers, vendors, and employees. Here are a few ways to make that feedback as positive as possible to ensure that your message gets across and relationships remain undamaged.
- React immediately. Don’t fly off the handle, but deal with situations as soon as possible after they arise. Otherwise, the person receiving the feedback may not even remember the situation you are referring to. This will also help to prevent bad habits.
- Ask for the other party’s perspective. This can give you insight into the problem, but, more importantly, it makes the other person feel heard and appreciated from the start. This creates a framework for the feedback process: that you are going to work together to resolve the issue and prevent it in the future.
- Be positive. There’s a reason we have the word ‘positive’ in the title! All feedback, regardless of what you are going to share, should be framed in a positive way. Begin with a positive statement and end with one as well. Any criticism should be sandwiched between positive statements. This will ensure that the person you are talking to does not completely shut you out before you get to the key issue.
- Avoid attacking or judging. Even if you think the situation was caused by pure stupidity or neglect, avoid using these words. They do nothing to resolve the situation and create a hostile tone. It is difficult to work with someone who perceives you as dumb or incapable, so preserve your future relationship by avoiding these and other demeaning adjectives.
- Be specific. Do not be vague; give the exact example that is bothering you and state why is was not acceptable. If you give vague, negative feedback, the person will perceive you as a complainer and be less likely to respond proactively and respect your requests. Give easy to understand “when, then” statements, such as: When you are late with my order, I am left without a saleable product. This states the problem without blaming the offender.
- Think about outcomes. Coming from a punishing or berating standpoint is natural if you feel you have been wronged. However, it will not actually help the situation. Consider the outcome that you want to achieve and work with the person in question to find a way to achieve it with everyone ultimately feeling good about the process.
- Maintain civility. You might be upset about the situation, but you cannot let your emotions get in the way of working out the problem. Be as polite and respectful as possible. This will reduce defensiveness and allow you to work as a partner in correcting the situation.
- Don’t back down. These tips are not in any way suggesting that you ‘let things go’. If a problem is harming your business, pursue it and fix it. Just make sure you are positive throughout the process.