Trial Attorney Shares His Tiny Secret For Giving Feedback People Actually Listen To

This small shift in the way you express your feedback can go a long, long way toward getting better results.

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Figuring out how to give feedback without sounding harsh can be tricky. So, how do others offer suggestions for improvement without coming off as a jerk?

Though challenging, providing insight without sounding like a total witch isn't impossible. Trial attorney Jefferson Fisher offers one piece of advice for giving constructive feedback.



The Secret To Giving Constructive Feedback

You're in a meeting with your coworker and you need to give constructive feedback about a product.


As you're presenting your thoughts, many of us tend to use filler words like "but" to get our point across.

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But... the word "but" can make or break how your critique is received. For example, try saying, "Great job on the report, but the marketing section needs some work."

Is it the worst feedback ever? No, but could it be better? Most definitely!

Simply replacing the word "but" with the word "and" makes a world of difference.

As Fisher says, "Then it becomes walking hand in hand with this person.


When we hear "but," we usually brace ourselves for something negative. So, try saying, "Great job on the report and I think we can make it even better."

By swapping out these small words, you can help your coworker feel less defensive and more open to your feedback. As their minds don't register that automatic negative feedback, allowing them to process your comment without a clouded mindset.

Although great advice, what other ways can we give constructive feedback that can land better with our coworkers?

How To Offer Constructive Feedback

1. Trust

Establishing trust helps deliver feedback, says Champlain College. People will naturally listen to those they trust.


If you don't have a relationship, you can't expect your coworker to be open and receptive to your feedback. So prove that you're someone reliable and trustworthy to work with.



2. Balance

Don't offer feedback without listing the positives and negatives, writes Champlain College.

This can be difficult if someone on your team is constantly lacking. However, approaching it from a negative standpoint will cause the person to become defensive and likely not listen. It can also lead to further issues later on if your coworker feels called out or unappreciated.


So, before you give your feedback balance out the positives and the negatives. Write down a list and be sure to keep your tone neutral but pleasant.

RELATED: How Negative Feedback Can Actually Improve Your Self-Confidence

3. Specify

Don't beat around the bush with your feedback, advises Champlain College. Being vague leaves room for misinterpretation, which can undermine the original point of our feedback.

Be thorough in your explanations and if necessary demonstrate. Give examples of what you'd like to see or demonstrate yourself.

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Champlain College also suggests using the Situation, Behavior, and Impact method, also known as the SBI method.

With this method, you'll identify the situation and the behavior you didn't like. Then, you'll suggest ways they can improve their behavior.

Providing constructive feedback to your coworkers is always challenging. We tend to overthink and this might unintentionally come off as rude in the process.

However, by keeping these small tips in mind, we can improve our ability to navigate work relationships and create a positive and helpful atmosphere for our coworkers.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.