I’m honored to have been quoted in Fast Company’s article on how to give negative feedback. Check it out.
Constructive criticism also brings out defensiveness. “Human beings are hardwired to defend themselves when receiving negative feedback,” says Shari Harley, founder and president of the management-training firm Candid Culture and author of How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships That Really Work. “You can’t eliminate people’s defensive reactions to negative feedback, but you can reduce it, making feedback easier to hear and act upon,” she says.
People often hoard feedback until a situation becomes so frustrating that they can’t help but speak up, says Harley. “Because they waited too long to say what they think, many more words come tumbling out than is either necessary or helpful.”
Instead, make it a practice to give small amounts of feedback at a time—one or two strengths and areas for improvement during a conversation. People cannot focus on more than one or two things at a time, says Harley.
Give feedback close to the time of an event, but not when you’re upset, says Harley.
“The time to fix a problem is when no one is upset,” she says. “I call this practice the 24-hour guideline and the one-week rule: Wait 24 hours to give feedback if you’re upset, but not longer than a week after an event occurs.”
“Praise in public, criticize in private,” says Harley. Make sure all negative feedback discussions happen behind a closed door.