When you give tough feedback, you are pulled in two directions:
– Confront: Be candid, blunt, honest, direct, and specific — in order to provide a clear signal and the vital information to address the issues.
– Support: Be appreciative, caring, and optimistic — in order to motivate and avoid the noise of upset.
Too much Confront can push people away. Too much Support can obscure your clear message.
Here’s the resolution: Make sure that everything you say is True, Useful, and Respectful.
True means that you are being forthright and sincere. The opposite of True is often not False, but rather obscured, or diluted so your meaning is lost. If it’s not true, you will feel like a fake, and besides, what’s the point of saying it?
Useful means that your words will help to build a better future. You are not blaming or complaining about the past, but rather seeking to create something more valuable or satisfying than whatever existed before. “Being right” is not nearly so important as making sure that things “go right” as you move forward.
Respectful means that you honor the dignity of yourself and everyone else. You are speaking to learn and improve, not to prove yourself or make others wrong. Your intent is to contribute without blame or shame, and you speak with honor for all.
There is always a way to provide feedback or ideas in a way that is True, Useful and Respectful. It’s your job to find it, then use it well.
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