It’s never easy to tell someone how their behaviour affects you, especially when this involves giving constructive feedback about negative behaviour. The key word is “constructive.” Your goal is to always create an exchange that benefits you while also being constructive for the other person, despite how their negative actions may have pushed your buttons or triggered your own defensive response. Keep these in mind when you approach a truthful conversation:
- Don’t kitchen-sink it—stay away from drawing in other complaints or past situations no matter how tempting this might be.
- Keep the focus on yourself—state your own truth in a non-blaming way. Use the four-part non-blaming “I” message:
1. When this happens (explain what the observable behaviour is)
2. I feel (name how their comment/behaviour makes you feel)
3. Because (explain the direct result of how you feel when this happens)
4. This is what I need (tell the other person specifically what you need)
- Avoid insulting or putting down the other person as you make your point. Don’t compare or bring in the ironies you see, unless you are prepared for an all-out war.
- Keep repeating your truth without judging or blaming.
- Don’t get side-tracked if the other person tells you that you’re being over-sensitive. Remember that people are not always comfortable hearing your truth. Besides, expressing a crossed boundary does not equal being over-sensitive; it equals feeling disrespected!
- Use the sandwich technique – give positive feedback, constructive feedback and then more positive feedback.
- Know that you care enough to give feedback in the first place. If you don’t care about the relationship you wouldn’t take the time to work things out.
- Show understanding and don’t back down from your position. Listen to the other’s thoughts too. You may not agree. Remember to apply the active listening skills (See the July 26, 2016 blog post: Put the Active Back into Your Listening) to better understand the other person’s point of view.
Always be compassionate. Always be kind. Everybody has their own stuff that they’re dealing with. You’re not responsible for their stuff, but you can show empathy and compassion. The goal is to expand to a greater meaning and build a trusting relationship. When people hear our truth, they learn to respect us and they can then trust in the relationship. And trust builds relationship!
-Kelly L. Howarth