Sometimes people do things we don’t want in our personal relationships or work/business relationships. When this happens, we might express anger towards them while dishing out some biting criticism.

We may even go into controlling mode:

“No, you have to do it like this! I’m really tired of you doing the same thing. Do you even listen to me? Do you have a memory problem?”

Most of the time, when we give sharp criticism, the other person will shut down. They’ll get defensive, they’ll feel offended.

You just stomped on their ego (and therefore, you stomped on their very being).

People can be super sensitive. Even confident, grounded people can sometimes respond negatively to harsh criticism.

Why is this important?

Giving negative feedback to someone in the wrong way can ruin a relationship. Sometimes, permanently.

You want to keep people on your side, as much as possible. Especially in your business or workplace.

Giving sharp criticism to people contributes to unmotivated employees, disgruntled consultants or pissed off vendors.

Damaged relationships affect your bottom line, as well as your happiness level.

So, how do I give negative feedback to people?

Keep in mind that whenever you attempt to take on new habits or new way of being, your old habits and patterns will create some resistance for you.

You’ll want to go back to your default behaviour.

Be vigilant. Recognize what’s happening.

Quickly remember the new behaviour that you’re working on. Get back on track with your goal of delivering constructive and compassionate feedback.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Practice over-the-top empathy

Put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to receive criticism? In what tone? What words would you personally respond to?

Use the tone and words that you would respond to.

Observe the person’s response when you give them feedback. Are they receptive to what you’re saying? Or did you just “accidentally” crush them?

2. Keep the conversation short and simple.

Don’t get too wordy because your message might get lost. Be clear and direct. And be kind.

3. Be calm, be cool

Be as calm as you can before you talk to them. You can create more calmness by practicing deep breathing, meditation, going for a short walk, or anything else that will put you in a calmer state.

4. Focus on the person’s actions, not the person

Keep the person separate from their actions when giving criticism. That means that you won’t criticize the person directly. You don’t talk about who they are, their personality or any of that.

Just focus on their actions.

Go “dry” and analytical as much as you can when talking about the actions they did and the action that you want to see.

By only focusing on the actions (which are temporary and subject to change), we’re giving the other person the possibility of change. Criticizing an action is less personal than criticizing personality characteristics, and most people will be more open to hearing what you’re saying.

Final Thoughts

I hope these ideas help create and sustain more positive relationships with the people you’re interacting with each day.

If you find a way to value giving compassionate criticism, this will help ensure that you do it more often.

Make it something that is important to you and show commitment to this habit by taking regular action on it!

Until next time,


PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.