Life is such that we can’t keep everyone happy all the time. Every once in a while people are going to do things that get on our bad sides and very often we’re going to have to bring these issues to their attention. This is a skill, especially in the professional arena and here are some pointers on how to do this effectively.
1. Think of the positives
Take things into perspective. Yes, an issue occurred, but were there any positives? Lead with that. Once that is out of the way explain what the issue is and why it is an issue. Sometimes, from the accused’s perspective, the issue may be minuscule in comparison to the work that they did and a little bit of appreciation will go a very long way in being receptive to your criticism.
2. Don’t wait for an issue to occur before you speak to someone
Don’t you just love those people who only talk to you when there’s an issue? How responsive have you been to that? What about those people who seem to have some interest in you as a person? Aren’t you just a tad more receptive to the issue and correction of it because you know the person isn’t trying to cut you down.
Not everyone likes to be approached the same way. Some prefer direct, some prefer cushioned/sandwiched (positive, negative, positive), some prefer face to face, some prefer emails. Maybe you don’t have enough time in the day to cater to everyone’s wants and needs, but the secret to managing people well lies in step 2. If you know them, you’ll be better able to read them and adapt to the style they’ll be most receptive to. It makes your job easier if you can bring up issues in a way that will be received. Trust me.
4. Don’t patronize
If there’s an issue. Stick to the issue. Don’t try and add in life lessons, don’t operate out of assumptions about what’s going on in the person’s personal life, don’t be a master psychologist, just focus on the issue. That’s it.