On the internet, and in life, words are how we communicate with each other. We can choose to use kindness in our language, or we can use words that are belittling to the recipient.
This is especially true in giving feedback to others. Almost everyone I know has things they are working to improve in their life. Professional skills, home improvements, relationship improvements, learning to interact with their child or dog, or for many of my friends, improving their horseback riding.
Giving positively worded feedback can really pay off. You develop stronger relationships when you can convey what you would like changed in a manner that is respectful of the recipient, you can even get things like service from companies if you write/speak well. If you work on a team, you can produce even better products by building your team up as you give constructive criticism.
Last year, I had the good fortune to work with an Army Colonel who was truly one of the best leaders I have ever worked with. Watching him conduct meetings with his team was a lesson in developing a positive relationship, team, or product every time, so I would go to as many briefings as I could, because I wanted to study him. He was a master of giving positive feedback, even when he wanted changes, the language he used was positive. He has moved onto a new post, and I miss the opportunity to learn from watching him already.
When reading feedback over the years, I’ve noticed that some people like to be insulting when they give feedback. They’ll toss in an odd compliment here or there, but their purpose in giving feedback is not to help the recipient, it is to show the giver of feedback how clever they are in noticing such details.
In professional reviews, many companies give training on how to run a review, because when your work is being reviewed, you have invested personal time, effort, and most likely pride in your work. It is human nature to become defensive when something you have done is being critiqued. The more you care about what you’ve done, the more defensive urges you will have to suppress.
There are some words/phrases to avoid when giving feedback, and these are probably words to avoid if you have rules surrounding arguments.
Always/Never – “you always do …”
For the past <insert time> –
This isn’t a new problem
There are many others, but it is something to reflect on.