Should You Sugar-coat Feedback?Tips and advice on giving feedback or criticism

Managers and team leaders often shy away from giving feedback, especially when it comes to clothing or behaviour. They don’t want to jeopardize working relationships.

They may not feel skilled in giving constructive criticism. They also know that honest feedback, no matter how well-intentioned, often feels personal. So it’s becoming common practice to hire image consultants, etiquette experts, and performance coaches to address problems or situations that were previously handled by managers.

Some Tips

I was recently interviewed by Canadian Business magazine for an article entitled Why You Should Stop Sugar-coating All Your Feedback by Rosemary Counter. Click here to read the short article for a few tips from various experts. Remember, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

The four way test

When I was a member of Rotary, we were taught to ask ourselves four questions regarding things we think, do or say.

It is called The Four Way Test.

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

When contemplating giving honest feedback, ask yourself, is it necessary, is it kind, will it help them improve the situation or performance.

Friendly advice?

This is even more important if you are not in a supervisory position and you are planning to give a colleague some free advice.

Free advice isn’t always free

Free advice sometimes has a cost. When it comes to colleagues and friends, you really have to ask yourself test #3 – Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself, would I want to know?

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Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and 4 way test believer

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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