How to Give and Receive Negative Feedback, A Script

How to Give and Receive Negative Feedback is a script that has actual sentences to help deliver feedback that gets results and inspires change. If you are at an executive level, you might not be giving this type of feedback, but you can certainly pass some of these phrases along to your managers. These steps are a guide to the feedback and the dialogue that can be opened so managers are more attuned to their team and how they best accept feedback. What many trainers fail to take into account is that feedback is as much a process as any other part of an org and the way that you learn to give and accept is critical to success.  We hope this helps you frame negative feedback in a way that is constructive and conducive to the receiver’s wellbeing and inspires the change you desire. 

1. Accept internal discomfort. If the idea of critiquing the receiver makes you uncomfortable, you are not alone. Most managers are uncomfortable delivering negative feedback unless of course, they are sadists. It does come with the territory and being a good leader means you will have to say things that are hard sometimes and there is always a risk someone will take something personally. To alleviate this over time, practice observing and accepting this internal discomfort. Slow, deep breathing directed while sitting in the uncomfortable emotions is recommended before the session to allow the emotions to subside and thus not interfere with or become a reactionary element to the session. 

2. Remove Hierarchy and Consequence Remove the hierarchy and consequence from the feedback session, as best you can. Set the scene by creating a friendly, non-hostile environment including a  warm and genuine greeting, offering something to drink, and making some general conversation to break the ice. You are both not looking forward to this and if the receiver is pre-empting negative feedback, your warmth will ease his nerves, which will allow the feedback to be better heard and received. They also have to know that their livelihood is not on the line, unless it is.

3. Be Clear About A Feedback Session Before you do anything, be clear that you are meeting to deliver feedback. No one likes to feel ambushed. Do it one to one and don’t couch it in language that is unclear. DO make it a discussion where the receiver of the feedback knows that you hope it to be a two-way dialogue, where both parties can express themselves openly and towards a bigger goal of the project and team. 

4. Separate the person’s work from the person. This is probably the crux of why everyone hates receiving feedback. Feedback is often taken as a personal critique. Clarify that you are evaluating the receiver’s work and not the receiver himself. You can go an additional step to even explain why you want him/her/they to not take it personally. An advance apology can be helpful, “If you have trauma relating to feedback or I am delivering this in a way that is triggering, please let me know, the feedback I am providing to you today is not personal feedback; it has everything to do about your work, and not who you are as a person.”

5. Use Feedback to Reinforce Importance  In instances where you have a lot of critical feedback to give, highlight how important the individual is and the function being performed. Use something like, I’m being thorough here because I care about this and your work matters to the completion of this project. 

6. Frame a Makeover, if it can be personal, make it personal . If you can, tell an anecdote about transformation and negative feedback you received and how you grew from it, only try not to use the word grow. Think praise praise praise and put yourself on the same playing field as them. Only this small thing for improvement and reiterate your knowledge of their capability for change and improvement.

7. Level on Subjectivity. Level with your audience and recognize that your feedback projects your personal views and opinions not only on the receiver’s work but on the subject matter. Acknowledge this as you provide feedback by saying things like, “In my opinion…” and “I believe that…”

8. End on a High Note. Always end the session with the high notes; past accomplishments, team accomplishments, highlight reel of some of the best annual moments. Also, reiterate the non personal nature, they are leaving the interaction and will be replaying, so be sure that what they take with them is praise. Have a game plan moving forward that you also leave them with. Feedback is more valuable with a game plan attached. 

How to Give and Receive Negative Feedback, A Script

We hope this helps, It is always cringe worthy, but is so critical to a good relationship and working environment. If you are looking for a third party to train and help facilitate feedback sessions, contact us!

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