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How do you give negative feedback positively?

Frame your feedback with positive aspirations

Aspirations describe how you would like to promote values and universal needs. By stating your aspirations for the feedback, people can understand that what otherwise may sound like criticism is meant to help things be better. Some examples:

Instead of only saying Can you wait until I'm finished before responding? you could say Can you wait until I'm finished before responding? I want to make sure my full point gets across.

Instead of only saying I'd like more discussion of what went wrong. you could say I'd like more discussion of what went wrong so we can learn from our mistakes.

Instead of only saying I need clearer instructions. you could say I need clearer instructions because I want to complete the tasks to a high standard.

Example aspirations around tasks and outputs:

  • I want to be effective in getting my ideas across
  • I want to be able to complete the tasks to a high standard
  • I want to have a fair/reasonable workload
  • I want to have clarity on priorities
  • I want encouragement when I'm on the right track

Example aspirations around communication:

  • I want to be able to follow what you are saying
  • I want to understand what you are saying
  • I want reciprocity in conversation

The following video talks more about using aspirations when giving feedback to someone with a difficult communication style:

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