As we begin to bring 2023 to a close, many of us are focused on improving our bottom line in 2024. This can sometimes involve having tough conversations with our employees and leadership teams. Providing feedback in our personal and professional lives can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

When you are giving someone feedback, whether it’s someone who reports to you or another coworker, the last thing you want to do is make the conversation feel like a blame game or like you're pointing the finger. Here’s what to avoid when giving feedback to ensure that the conversation is productive:

  • Comparing Them to Others: Nobody wants to be compared to others. Be kind when providing feedback and remember that not everyone works the same.
  • Overwhelming Them: When giving constructive feedback, choose a couple key points to focus on. It doesn't feel good to have a long list of things you've done wrong read off to you.
  • Saying It and Forgetting It: When you give someone feedback regarding something they may not have been doing correctly, make sure you're following up afterwards to see if there is anything else they need to be successful in improving their performance.

Now that you know what not to do, here are some ways to ensure that you're providing a safe and comfortable space for someone to receive your feedback.

  • Use Positive Language: Change "Here's what you did wrong" to "Here's a way you can enhance this." Give feedback in a timely manner; make sure that you’re giving feedback close to when the behavior or action happened. It’s helpful for it to be fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Be Honest and Sincere: You don’t need to sugarcoat it, but you also don’t need to be rude or harsh. Make sure you’re respectful and empathetic in your approach.
  • Listen: Once you’ve given someone feedback, make sure they have an opportunity to respond. Actively listen to their point of view — it matters.

Providing effective feedback is a powerful tool that can lead to improved performance, enhanced learning, increased self-awareness, better communication, and stronger relationships. It plays a vital role in personal and professional growth and development.