What do you do when you have to give critical feedback to someone, especially to people you know?
I have found myself noticing some important things that weren’t done well or properly on a couple of occasions recently. I have decided not to put the feedback and suggestions for change in an email because words on paper can have a harsher impact than one means, plus they can be forwarded out into the universe to who knows where, and they can be edited. (Cyber bullets can be fired dramatically fast and sourced from raw materials so I’d like not to give any unintended ammunition.)
I have gone over a checklist I use in communication workshops, paying particular attention to the advice to “think of whose needs the feedback will meet.” I’ve done a quick analysis to make sure that I do not merely need to vent as opposed to giving important feedback.
I know how to deliver feedback in a courteous, thoughtful, and quiet matter. Still, I’ve learned that sometimes it is difficult for people to hear feedback from me. I see it when they roll their eyes or purse their lips and get annoyed:
“There goes Candelaria again, giving feedback,” I can hear them thinking.
People will get defensive, or feel like you’re saying you could do whatever better than them, or treat you like you’re a know-it-all. (For the record, I know a lot but I certainly don’t know it all. I am reminded each and every day of how little I know and how much more I need to know). People do not like you to fill in their blanks.
Still, because I’m always striving to be my best self and, therefore, appreciate getting feedback especially if it’s given privately and not when I’m smack in the middle of an event or something (unless a safety issue is involved, then, by all means, interrupt me, pull me to the side and tell me what I need to know).
I’m in a dilemma because the feedback is for organizations that I interact with a lot, one as a board member. One bit of feedback pertains to a potential safety issue, while the other is a question of professional standards.
For now, I’ve decided to swallow hard and hold-off giving the feedback to the organizations and people and just write it out here for one of the wise readers of this blog to give me advice.
I’d appreciate your feedback, please. Thank you.