3 Ways To Give Feedback So They Don’t Become Defensive

Mentoring and training new employees


When other employees give you work that doesn’t meet your standards, offering feedback can be dicey.

The reason: Most people tend to become defensive when they’re given criticism.  Plus when they’re defensive, they stop listening.

What can you do to get through to them?  Try this advice from Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone:

Find the right time

If employees are distracted, they’ll be less open to ideas.

Before jumping into your feedback, ask if it’s a good time for them to discuss the project.

If they’re currently swamped, tell them it’s OK to wait.

This gives them a sense of control, which will help them receive the feedback openly.

Give them options

People get defensive when they don’t feel they have any choices.

Instead of telling them how to change, share what you’ve observed and let them decide what to do with the info.

Example: Instead of saying, “You need to be more friendly to clients,” you might say, “Our clients respond well to a friendly atmosphere.  I’ve noticed you’re a little hesitant to greet them.  Can I share some ideas for making them feel at ease?”

Ask what they think

You can’t prevent someone from feeling defensive.  If you notice the person has suddenly gotten quiet, stop and ask what’s going on:

“Do you disagree with anything I’ve said?”

If they don’t open up, reassure them by reminding them of something positive they’ve done:

“Overall, you’ve been a great help.  These are just details.”

For more ideas on giving feedback, go to:

Giving Feedback Without Making People Defensive


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