There’s a difference between attacking a problem and attacking a person. While honesty is crucial in the workplace, it must be delivered in a delicate fashion with tact and professionalism. The Next Web wrote a fantastic piece on Critique vs Criticize: The Lost Art of Candor in the Workplace. Here are a few key mantras to remember the next time you need to approach a coworker with some negative feedback:
1. Candy-coated information won’t help anyone.
If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding the issue likely means avoiding a solution. Candor is important in discovering the best solution to a difficult problem. So if you’re feeling queasy before raising a sensitive subject, remember — it’s in everyone’s best interest to talk this out.
2. Everyone communicates — and takes criticism — differently.
Different personalities communicate differently, work differently, and give and take feedback differently. Keep this in mind when delivering and receiving feedback. Think of the source of the feedback or the recipient of the feedback and adjust your response accordingly.
3. People dwell on the negative even if it’s delivered in the best way possible.
According to The Next Web, it can take five positive events to outweigh one negative event. Although truthful feedback is absolutely necessary for success in the workplace, remember that it may sour the air temporarily and may not be welcomed with a smile.
4. Be up front about what’s about to happen.
Your team may want to dedicate a “safe space” like a private conference room for honest talks like these or even begin utilizing a phrase that indicates some serious talk is about to go down. Either way, give the recipient a heads up that you are about to deliver some negative news.
5. Be brief and move on to the solution.
Think about how you can deliver the news in the most terse fashion possible. Then refocus the conversation to the solution — what can we do moving forward? As mentioned above, people will dwell on the negativity but make a concerted effort to move the conversation to a more positive place.