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How to Give Honest Feedback that is Well Received and Reduce Discomfort


how to give honest feedback

Offering feedback is an act of kindness and respect when given honestly and thoughtfully from the heart (not the ego), and can lead to personal growth, improved relationships, and better outcomes. However, the act of giving feedback is not always easy. Sometimes, it can be uncomfortable, awkward, and may even lead to conflict. So, how can we improve our chances of giving honest feedback that is well-received and reduce discomfort?


Before providing feedback, it is crucial to take a moment to assess our thoughts and emotions. Allowing our emotions to influence our perception of the situation can result in a biased and subjective point of view. However, if we acknowledge and separate ourselves from our emotions, we can approach the situation from a neutral standpoint. Consequently, we can provide constructive criticism that is less harsh and more effective.


It is key to remember that we can only control how we deliver our message and not how the other person will perceive it. While we have no control over how someone will react to our feedback, it is within our power to ensure that our message is conveyed in a direct, respectful, and honest manner. By focusing on our delivery and sticking to the facts, we can help create a more objective environment and reduce the likelihood of negative emotions from the other person.


Being mindful of the emotions of others, or empathy, is another critical factor in reducing discomfort. Often, the person receiving feedback is already feeling vulnerable or anxious. They may be worrying about their performance, be sensitive to criticism, or have other things going on in their personal life. By considering their needs, we can deliver feedback in a way that is not only honest but also supportive and considerate.


Be careful not to get caught up in the reaction of the other person. If they become defensive, angry, or upset, it can be tempting to react or try to justify our feedback. However, this can lead to a spiraling negative interaction. Instead, acknowledge their reaction and re-state your feedback, or redirect the conversation towards finding a solution. Remember, the purpose of feedback is to improve, solve problems or help, not to win, be right, or emotionally release.


Getting clear on our objective is essential before we deliver feedback. Are we trying to win, be right, emotionally release, get something off our chest, solve a problem, or to feel heard? Understanding the purpose and intent behind our feedback will provide clarity in our communication. It will help us deliver our message effectively, ensure we are considering the needs of others, and control our reactions to their response.


While giving feedback can be an uncomfortable experience, it's essential for personal growth, learning, and a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, practice doesn’t always make it easier in some cases, but it will increase your chances of a better outcome and can reduce discomfort. Just remember, begin by checking in with your thoughts and emotions before giving feedback, acknowledging that you can only control your delivery, and empathizing with the other person. Don't get caught up in their reaction, and ensure that your feedback serves the objective that you set out to achieve. Ultimately, being an effective communicator and giving honest feedback takes practice, patience, and a willingness to learn.


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