How to be Emotionally Intelligent with Written Communication at the Workplace

Emotions play a big part in our communication at the workplace, either face-to-face or written. The way we express our emotions require us to be sensitive to others’ emotions. In the same way, we also need to be sensitive to our own emotions and values and respond accordingly. The mastery of our own emotions is a skill that can help us become more productive at work. Working on how we express ourselves can greatly affect how we connect and collaborate with others.

Expressing ourselves through written communication is a challenging task as we have limited means to express our ideas. Email, chats and all other sorts of documents in a workplace often focus totally on the subject or topic; which makes it difficult to understand the emotions behind them. However, I feel we need to make space for our emotions, ideas, and thoughts to be freely expressed in any form of communication to build lasting trust and cooperation with our colleagues.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Pros and Cons of Written Communication In The Workplace?

The digital age has made communication faster and more accessible. We’re able to send messages to people we can’t meet personally in a more efficient manner. Emails and text messages can distribute information to people anywhere in the world while we’re at the comfort of our desk.

We use written communication in many different situations at the workplace. Some of these situations can be found below :-

  • Sharing important information through emails to different division members
  • Providing feedback on documents sent to us for review
  • Responding to messages asynchronously
  • Requesting permission for vacations leave and other administrative tasks

These situations can get challenging since you need to fit your message into a certain format and you’re left to express your message often only through text. There are no verbal and nonverbal cues to help you express your thoughts.

Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way. -Mavis Mazhura

Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way. -Mavis Mazhura

So, where does emotional intelligence fit? Emotional intelligence can help us in phrasing our emotions into words and sentences. The knowledge of our emotions serves as a guide to how we can communicate better with other professionals.

Communication, in whatever form, is never detached from our personality (thoughts, emotions, beliefs). Even a simple email or letter is already an expression of ourselves. Emotional Intelligence is not just about communicating verbally and listening to others. It is about expressing ourselves clearly regardless of what medium we use for communication.

Written communication, while it is effective, also has drawbacks. Since messages are limited to written text, they can get lost in translation. The way we choose to express the message can be interpreted differently by the other person. Some parts or the whole intent of the message can be misunderstood.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. – Dale Carnegie

What Can We Do To Avoid Confusion And Misinterpretation?

By being careful about a few ideas as listed below, we can make written communication easier for others to process and understand :-

  1. Write messages in simple and short sentences. Written communication is about effectively transferring information. By adopting a simple style of writing, we become more effective since there is less room for misinterpretation.
  2. Ask others if they understand the message you’re expressing. The most effective way to ensure that no miscommunication happens is by confirming the message with others. There’s nothing wrong with asking colleagues if they understood the details you provided.
  3. Be careful in being funny or sarcastic. It’s alright to add some humor to messages, but be sensitive of others who might get offended or misinterpret them.
  4. Avoid emotionally-charged messages. Written communication is not meant for emotional release. Ask yourself if you would have the courage to say the same thing face to face. If not, don’t express it as an email either.
  5. Ask for acknowledgement if you expect something back. Or follow up if you don’t hear back or hear an unsatisfactory response to make things clear.
It isn't stress that makes us fall--it's how we respond to stressful events. -Wayde Goodall

It isn’t stress that makes us fall–it’s how we respond to stressful events.
-Wayde Goodall

When Should We Not Use Written Communication?

While written communication may be helpful, there are times when its use is not the best choice. Having the presence of mind not to use written communication if the situation calls for it is also being emotionally intelligent. Some situations like those listed below might require a personal conversation instead of written.

  • Discussing sensitive or emotion-loaded discussions – Written communication cannot express the full spectrum of emotions and messages we wish to send to others. Verbal and nonverbal cues are important when talking about sensitive topics to be able to fully express emotions and communicate the message without room for misinterpretation.
  • Personal discussions – Personal discussions often require attention and immediate feedback. The nature of written communication, unfortunately, cannot fit the needs of these important discussions.

In conclusion, becoming emotionally intelligent requires us to know when and how written communication can be used in a professional setting. Doing it well allows us to capitalise on human relationship and unlock the huge potential when people work together for a common purpose and mission. On the other hand, if not done well, it can also go downhill pretty quickly.

Do You Know your Emotional Triggers? And What To Do When You Are Emotionally Triggered?

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power” – Lao Tzu

I am sure we’ve all experienced a sudden emotional reaction. It happens when our thinking starts to become clouded, and feelings (of fear, anger, or sadness) overwhelm us. While it’s not always possible to avoid emotional outbursts, there are always better ways of expressing our emotions without suppression or explosion.

Our emotions play a crucial role at the workplace too. Anybody who tells us otherwise doesn’t understand that human beings are emotional beings, and just because we are at work we can’t expect to not have any emotions at all.

Teamwork and cooperation rely heavily on each team members’ communication. Here’s where identifying our emotional triggers becomes important. Understanding our own emotions also helps us understand how we can interact better with others. Rather than suppressing or controlling our emotions, we should be able to express our emotions in a way that we can be proud of in the long term, and which just doesn’t give the kind of short term relief an emotional outburst provides. When we are able to do that, we build trust and cooperation with colleagues which in turn translates into better quality work.

When Do We Become Emotionally Triggered?

Every one of us is unique. We have our own likes and dislikes, personalities, and habits. We sometimes refer to this as our “identity” as individuals. We all have our own unique and different emotional triggers as part of our identity, and some of us are more sensitive to these emotional triggers than others.

Our beliefs, values, culture, and past experiences shape how our identity is formed. In a similar fashion, our means of expressing emotions are shaped over time. They are learned and slowly become habits, unless we intervene and decide to change them.

But what causes our emotions to trigger in the first place? There are different factors that can trigger our emotions. Figuratively, emotional triggers are stimuli that can press our hot buttons. Like an Achilles’ heel, we usually try to guard ourselves from these triggers.

Emotional Triggers

What Factors Cause Our Emotions to Trigger?

These triggers can vary from the simplest things in our daily life to more personal ones, but they can be classified into common factors such as the following:

  • Undesirable memories of people, places, and events – Anything that reminds us of a past traumatic experience can be an emotional trigger. These memories evoke strong emotions that might cause us to behave differently.
  • Stress and lack of comfort – Some situations cause our emotions to stir without us knowing why. The loss of comfort and the built-up stress in these situations weaken us and cause our emotions to trigger.
  • Conflicting beliefs, values, and culture – Our emotions often trigger when we feel that our identity is being attacked. While some of us can be aware when this happens, most of us instinctively have our emotions triggered whenever conflicting beliefs arise without us realising so.
  • Pet peeves and dislikes – The things we dislike, whether or not we’re aware, also trigger our emotions depending on how much we dislike that thing. While pet peeves don’t always trigger strong emotions, these dislikes may weaken our emotional barriers and make us more emotionally vulnerable.

Once these emotional triggers press our hot buttons, we often become overwhelmed with emotions. As a result, our actions can often end up sending the wrong message. These can strain our relationships with people around us, or give an impression to others which we might not want to convey.

Knowing what our emotional triggers are is the first step to expressing them wisely. Becoming less vulnerable to emotional triggers requires knowing where our weak spots hide. As we get to know more about ourselves, we learn our emotional triggers and become more skilled in expressing emotions in a way that we can be proud of. When we think of it this way, we can turn our emotions into a strength rather than a weakness.

How Do You Identify Your Emotional Triggers?

“But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.” – Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

We can’t always avoid stressful situations. At work, we face these situations when heated arguments happen and conflicting views arise.  There will always be times when our emotional triggers suddenly act up. Whether we like it or not, we still need to collaborate with different people and their different identities. It all boils down to how we react to what we face.

Emotional Intelligence & Emotional Triggers

To be able to identify our emotional triggers, we must begin with introspection or the process of examining our emotions. Like a river, our emotions flow continuously. Learning what causes the tides of our emotions to change will help us identify our emotional triggers. Our body can also help us identify these changes.

  • Start by identifying physical symptoms of uneasiness and stress. Our body sends warning signals to our brain without us consciously knowing. These signals manifest into physical symptoms that we can identify. Involuntary shaking, sweating, increased heartbeat, and headaches are common symptoms that our mental state is vulnerable. You’ll notice that these physical symptoms arise when we start becoming highly emotional. By mastering this knowledge, we can identify the emotional triggers that causes us discomfort.
  • Notice changes in our behaviour. Our actions and mannerisms usually change when our emotional triggers affect us. Changes in the way we interact with certain people or in our routine are also symptoms of a weakened emotional state. In the same way as physical symptoms, we can also learn more about our emotional triggers by noticing patterns in our behaviour.
  • Identify common patterns. Learning more about our emotions and emotional triggers requires us to identify some common patterns. We need to know our dominant emotion before, during, and after periods of being highly emotional. Through this method, we can slowly map out how our emotions play out when we are triggered.
  • Reflect on your actions on when you became emotionally triggered. There will be situations when you will not know what exactly triggered your emotions even if you’re already aware of some of your emotional triggers. The best way to adapt to these situations is by reflecting on our actions and identifying what we can do to prevent the same situation from happening again.

What To Do When You Are Emotionally Triggered?

“He that knows patience knows peace” – Chinese Proverb

When worst comes to worst, we need to think and act fast and not panic. Below are some ways to avoid acting impulsively and doing something which we would regret later. 

  • Take a break – Take a pause, right where you are. Stop speaking if you are talking and take some deep breaths.  Get present to your body inhaling and exhaling. Let your body calm down and slowly relax. This will help you diffuse the situation as fast as possible. 
  • Get out of the situation (if possible). If it’s an uncomfortable situation that you can get out of, then do so immediately. You’ll know when you need to leave if you’re starting to feel physical symptoms. Removing yourself from the situation  gives you a chance to recover. If you can’t get out of the situation, patiently wait for an opening to excuse yourself.
  • Write it all down in a journal. Feelings of blame, justification, guilt or regret may often linger after having emotional outbursts. What you can do is to write your experience down in a journal. Keep writing until you have nothing left to say or express. Releasing all of the lingering emotions into a journal not only helps you release those emotions but also helps document your progress. P.S. – Don’t send it to anyone. Read it a few times and delete/destroy it.
  • Reflect and continue learning from the experience. Learning about ourselves is a continuing experience. Reflect on what you did and what you can do differently the next time. By reflecting on our past actions, we can always find ways to express our emotions better. 
  • Seek professional help if you need to. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in seeking professional help. This could range from asking a trusted mentor for advice or seeking intervention from a trained doctor. Some of us have grown up with several emotional triggers that greatly affect our daily life, and seeking professional help is sometimes necessary to live a more meaningful life.

Avoid Intoxication

Though there is always a temptation of doing so, we must avoid taking drugs and alcohol to feel better or suppress our emotions in the short term. Drugs and alcohol do not only remove so-called “inhibitors” but also weaken our mental state to the point where we become increasingly sensitive to our emotional triggers. What’s worse is that we tend to act more impulsively under the influence of alcohol that can cause harm to our relationships and people close to us.

In conclusion, the process of controlling our emotions goes hand-in-hand with learning about our true identity. Like how the seasons change, so too does our identity. Different experiences will eventually lead us to learn more about ourselves. Hopefully, this article will guide you in identifying and adapting to new emotional triggers that you’ll discover.

 

The Top Three Tragic Myths of the Times we Live in

“It was dark and quiet, and it took me a few seconds to stand steady on my feet. Well, that’s what happens when you have to get up at 2am to go to the bathroom. But things were going to get worse.

Just as I began to walk, I suddenly jumped and screamed. Something was crawling on my feet. It felt like a spider and I reached for the light switch. When the light turned on it turned out to be a piece of thread which had been lying on the floor. Apart from the disappointment of jumping for no reason, I was wide awake now!”

Just as it happened to me, we often get scared of an insect or a rat, but when we turn on the light they are just objects lying around. But our senses gave them an illusion of being an insect or a rat. Building up on this analogy, everything else in life – our riches, our troubles, and our possessions are illusions and a mirage created by our mind.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein.

Taking this notion forward, this article of mine is going to dwell upon why life itself is a myth, and how each one of us is driven by some ‘absolute‘ truths that are nothing more than widely accepted myths. These myths drain the life out of our days and take us onto paths of mediocrity and obscurity.

Below are the three such myths I think we all encounter in everyday life. (Give them some time to sink in, as they very well might be absolute truths for you.)

1. You Have to Work to Survive
The biggest myth of our times is ‘having to work‘ to earn a living for surviving. Right from our birth, everything is setup to create this illusion. Our education system, the economic system, all the news and shows on TV and the movies we watch. As we grow up, this myth becomes very ‘real‘ for us. The only thing from our childhood which we term as illusions are the cartoons we watch. Did you ever wonder why everyone loves cartoons?

There is a common misconception that work is necessary. Over decades and centuries, every rock is chipped away into sand and dust. Work can do the same to our lives and souls. Day by day, hour by hour, our work can chip us away into disintegration.

If someone tells you they are “making a living”, they can’t be more wrong. They are making a dying, and most probably fast spending whatever little time they have doing things out of compulsion rather than the pure desire of doing it.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Instead, what we can all do is PLAY. Go out and do what you want. Find something you love doing, something you are passionate about.

DisclaimerWork and Play doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you can find a way to play while at work, nothing could be better.

Many people say they don’t know their passion or hobbies, or they have not discovered them yet. Here is a formula – Look into your life, and the things you do for which you pay others are your hobbies and passions, and for which you get paid and compelled to do is work.

DO NOT spend the vast majority of your life working so that you can play in the end. That end might never come, or which might be tomorrow itself, for all you know.

2. Planning and Living for the Future
We live in a world where insurance and pension policies, investments, education, business, almost everything is done with an objective to achieve something in the future. While planning for the future has its benefits, I believe we often take it too far and miss the only time we really have, which is “now”, or this very moment.

Who gave you the guarantee that you will not die tomorrow, next week or next month? What made you believe that you are going to die at 70 or 80, and not at 20 or 30 or 40. If you don’t believe it, read and watch the news. People are dying everyday at all ages. The average age might be 70 or 80, but ask yourself – Do you really want to live your life based on a statistic?

Instead, LIVE NOW. Enjoy whichever phase of life you are in. Be in each day fully, rather than counting the days. Live your life in a way that you are satisfied even if you die tomorrow, or the next second. Make every breath count. Don’t wait for tomorrow if you want to fall in love, travel to your dream destination, or eat that favourite ice-cream of yours. Do it NOW (or at least pick a date in the calendar and book tickets now).

Fall in LOVE with life, not just with a few selected people, things and ideas. Whether you make 1 grand or 1 million, whether you live in an apartment or a mansion, embrace life fully NOW and don’t let your goals and milestones in life decide the level of your happiness or joy.

3. Control and Consistency
The next big myth we base our lives on is aiming for control and consistency. We plan and build systems, and we make rules and processes to make our lives more comfortable and smooth. But the very fact that we can control life is the biggest lie that we tell ourselves.

Life, by its very nature, is messy and unpredictable. It is not fair and nobody is entitled to get anything out of it. In school, if you study more, you get better grades and vice versa.

The same doesn’t hold true in life, as there are so many other factors at play other than your efforts. The sooner we realise this the better. Good and bad things will happen to you. Your education, job, the country you live in, or any other reason which gives you the illusion of safety, is a very bad armour against life.

Instead, be FREE from these controls. Embrace the uncertainty of life and experience real FREEDOM. Go out and play. Learn a new language. Take a new job, or live in different cities/countries and soak in different cultures. Write, paint, or do anything else that makes you experience life rather than draining the life out of you.

Don’t try to be nice or do what is expected. Don’t live for the gallery. Be authentic. For a change, LIVE for YOURSELF. Let yourself be misunderstood, hated, judged or whatever, but live by your convictions. It is better to be assassinated by another human being than being assassinated by death.

Conclusion
Our thoughts (and perception of reality) shape our decision, and in turn our circumstances. It is like watching the same movie again and again. If we want to play a different movie in our life, we have to change the tape.

And rejecting the above myths might be the first step. Thoughts arise in the mind, and we become aware of them. But over time, we stop seeing them as thoughts and see them as reality. Therefore, we should never stop to question our thoughts and the reality they form.

Life is a mirage. An earring and a bangle are both made out of gold. But our thoughts make one an earring and another a bangle, but in essence both are only gold. Yet we only term what we see while asleep as dreams and not what we see while awake. In essence, both are illusions created by our senses. We must never loose sight of that.

How to Ask and Get the Feedback You Need Without Any Stress and Awkwardness?

“I want to give you some feedback.”

If you are like most people, once you hear the above statement, your heart will start to beat a little faster, your palms might begin to sweat, and in certain situations, you might even begin to shake. Feedback can make anyone anxious and stressed – not because there is something inherently negative or bad about it, but because most people have never been trained in giving and receiving feedback. If you give and get feedback only once a quarter at work (even worse if it is once a year), and without any preparation, obviously it will be a strange conversation.

What I have learned over my career is that feedback can be an immensely valuable and insightful tool in our growth and progression, but only if we are ready and prepared to digest and use it for our benefit. Today I want to share via this article my thoughts on the value of feedback, what is the best way to receive it, and then what to do with it. I hope that after reading this article, instead of just waiting for feedback you actually start asking for it. If you are thinking why would anyone do that, let’s dive right in.

Why Do You Need Feedback?

Feedback is one of the easiest and most insightful tools to uncover your blind spots. A blind spot is anything that others know about you but you yourself don’t. For example – if you think you are confident but others find you arrogant and cocky, how the hell do you figure that out if nobody ever tells you that?

Feedback is like a beam of light which shows you how others perceive you. It can be the simplest way to uncover your strengths and weaknesses, but it is often not easy to digest and process it. Feedback lets you know how others perceive you and your talent, skills, behaviour and performance. And knowing them is a good thing. When used correctly, feedback can be a very useful tool to move in the right direction, change course if necessary, and grow in your career (and in life).

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
– Winston Churchill

How Do You Ask For Feedback?

Just like hearing feedback can be stressful for you, providing feedback can also be a stressful experience for the person on the other side. But there are a few ways you can make the feedback conversation a pleasant experience :-

  1. The best way to make the process easier for both sides is to actively and explicitly ask for it. When you invite feedback regularly, it removes the formality surrounding the process and makes the conversation more “normal”.
  2. Explain that you see feedback as a tool to learn and grow, and that you welcome any negative or uncomfortable feedback. You can also go one step ahead and assure the person that the feedback will not have any negative impact on the relationship. Knowing this always puts the other person at ease and allows the conversation to continue more maturely.
  3. Know what you are looking for in feedback. Feedback is not always critical. You should also ask for acknowledgement or appreciation for a task well done. Positive feedback will help you understand your strengths, and gives you the confidence and assurance required to look objectively at your weaknesses.
  4. Be specific and ask for examples. Don’t let anyone get away with a vague feedback. Always dig deeper and ask for specific events and evidence in support of the feedback you receive. Here are a few questions you can ask :-
    a) Can you explain what you mean?
    b) Can you give an example to support your point?
    c) Paraphrase the feedback and ask – Is that what you mean?
  5. Seek feedback from people all around you and not just your boss. Ask people above, below and sideways in your organisation. Multiple sources of feedback can eliminate any outliers and helps to surface any obvious blind spots immediately.
Feedback Is The Breakfast of Champions

Feedback Is The Breakfast of Champions

Powerful Questions

Whenever you are looking for some powerful and insightful answers, there are always corresponding powerful questions to go with them. Below are a few such questions you can ask to solicit deep and meaningful feedback about yourself :-

  1. If I were to wow you with my performance, what would that look like?
  2. What’s one thing I could improve?
  3. What would you have done differently had you been in my position?
  4. What’s your opinion about how I handled that conversation, presentation, task, etc?
  5. What specifically can I do to handle that task, conversation, project better?
  6. What is one thing you can always count on me for?
  7. What is one thing you will never count on me for?

What To Do After Receiving The Feedback

The worst thing that you can do with feedback is to do nothing with it. The feedback conversation is just the beginning on the road to learning and growth. So once you are done with the feedback, you can take the following steps to make the most of it.

  1. Thank the person for providing you feedback. Not only is feedback essential for your growth, it is also often a courageous step to provide it in the first place. Acknowledge the person for the conscious act of providing you feedback.
  2. Do not defend yourself during a feedback conversation. Do not get into a game of blame and justifications. Respond to the feedback, not react to it.
  3. If the feedback is critical, take responsibility (not blame) for what you hear. Let the other person know that you will evaluate the feedback and get back.
  4. Take time to introspect and evaluate the feedback. Does it resonate with feedback from others? Can you gather more data or feedback to validate it? If no, explain to others how you see it. If yes, let them know what you will change. Make certain promises and then do what you say.
  5. Take all the positive feedback and put it into a complements” document. Often we tend to focus too much on the negatives and ignore what we are doing well. Visiting this document regularly will give you motivation and positive reinforcement. Sometimes reading one little positive feedback can make your day.

Following the above guidelines doesn’t mean that your feedback conversations will be painless, but they will certainly go more smoothly. Once you see feedback for the powerful tool it is in your learning and growth, you will fall in love with it. The more you seek and get feedback, the faster you can move learn, adapt and change course if necessary. To conclude I would like to leave you with the below quote by Ken Blanchard.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
– Ken Blanchard

How to Give Feedback Effectively? What to do Before, During and After a Feedback Conversation?

Giving good quality feedback is an important skill to have in any organisation. Doing so regularly with our peers gives everyone an accurate understanding of how they are doing at work, and what needs to change / improve. However, I have always felt that the importance of feedback and how to effectively deliver it is something which is rarely stressed and communicated within companies. In this article I want to share some of the best practices I have learnt from different people and mentors over the years about giving feedback.

Why?

The first step to giving good feedback is to realise the importance and reason behind doing so. I believe that the only reason to provide feedback is to improve performance while working together. The purpose of giving feedback is never to measure performance, blame, to prove yourself right, to make others wrong or to put someone in his/her place.

I believe this is the most important aspect of feedback which we often miss. I see feedback as a ‘gift’ given from one person to another, with the only purpose of improving how they work together. When we see feedback as a ‘gift’, the feedback conversations tend to be more natural and less awkward.

Before (Preparation)

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Like most things in life, doing some groundwork before giving feedback is critical. Over time I have come up with a list of steps which helps me prepare for a feedback conversation.

  1. The first step is to collect data and evidence to back up your feedback, and to make sure you have seen the situation from different angles and point of views. This might include gathering some tangible data like sales reports, code reviews, etc or validating your feedback with different set of people.
  2. Apart from remembering the why behind sharing the feedback, it is also very important to have an open mind going into the conversation. We must be willing to investigate / apologise if things turn out otherwise. If the person you are sharing the feedback with brings up new facts or information you weren’t aware of, make sure to acknowledge them and take a time out to investigate rather than thrusting your feedback upon the person.
  3. Create a comfortable space for providing the feedback. Allow enough time so that none of you feel rushed. Depending on the type of feedback, choose an appropriate setting for the feedback. For example – do not choose a place which is overly conspicuous, and never give negative feedback in public. If the feedback is on a trivial issue, you can do it while walking back from a meeting, or in a vehicle driving to another destination to make it less formal. But if your conversation is more difficult, you might want to do it in a meeting room. The important thing to realise is that there is no one right place to deliver feedback, and you should choose based on the type of feedback.
  4. Sleep on it! If you feeling angry, upset or feel an urge to provide feedback; it is often better to sleep on it. Giving feedback at the wrong time can often do more harm than good. Once your emotions are more settled and you have gathered your thoughts, you can then share the feedback as soon as possible.

During (Process)

While you can do all the preparation you want, receiving feedback can still be a stressful experience for people (especially if it is critical). To ensure that the conversation goes smoothly you can follow a few guidelines :-

  1. Criticise in Private, Praise in Public. Use this as a golden rule for any feedback conversation.
  2. Never attach adjectives to people. Start by stating why you are providing feedback, which is always to improve performance (of the person, team, organisation). You demonstrate that by stressing on the impact of the person’s actions (on the team and their performance) and not on the person themselves. For example – Instead of saying “you are a weak communicator”, say “your communication style can be refined to make a better impact in team meetings”.
  3. Be specific in your feedback. Give examples. Do not be vague in your statements.
  4. Be aware of the other person’s body language. Notice if they are getting defensive, angry, upset and change course if necessary.
  5. Be prepared for an emotional reaction. But do not react yourself. Do not get into a game of arguments and justifications. Stay silent and let people vent out their emotions (if any).
  6. Listen and paraphrase what you hear to ensure there is no confusion and misunderstanding. Understand the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  7. Use non-conflicting language. Use “I” instead of “you”. For example – Say “I felt disappointed when you did that.” rather than “You disappointed me by doing that.”
  8. Don’t Push – When you push people, they will push back. Present your thoughts without trying to push them through. Give people a choice to accept or reject your feedback, as you cannot force them to your point of view anyway.
  9. Give more positive feedback than negative, and always be sincere when giving positive feedback. Remember that there are always positives about people to acknowledge.
  10. Thank them for listening to your feedback. End the conversation on a positive note, with the other person thinking about the next steps. He/she should see the feedback as a stepping stone, not as a stumbling block.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
– Winston Churchill

After (Follow Up)

To make sure that the feedback is serving its intended purpose, i.e., to improve performance, it is important to take a few follow up steps after the feedback conversation :-

  1. Send a brief summation of your meeting if it was important and critical enough. Also summarise any action points both of you agreed in a follow up email.
  2. The other person might need some time to process what you discussed. Give them that space. Follow up after a few days for any additional thoughts. Ask for feedback about how you provided the feedback. Anything they would like you to do differently the next time? Let your people know it is ok for them to give you useful feedback.
  3. Make sure to act on your action points, or share your progress on them. If you don’t walk your talk, you lose trust. If that happens, you have bigger problems to worry about.
  4. Follow up and ask for progress on the other person’s action points. Offer your support and help in any way you can.
  5. Thank the person and commend him/her for any change in future behaviour. Remember you can never give enough of positive feedback.

To conclude, feedback sharing sessions, when done well, are an incredible tool to build healthy relationships and make teams stronger. By listening and working on feedback, people can learn about themselves (self awareness) and be more conscious about their choices and decisions (career development). When you encourage people to give and share feedback, it helps create a culture of feedback, which eventually increases the strength and effectiveness of teams in your organisation.