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Giving feedback should be simple, but of course, it isn’t. Nobody wants to be seen as rude or demanding. But of course, feedback needs to be given every so often. If it doesn’t happen, change doesn’t happen, and that can be a disaster for any company.

In order for feedback to drive change, it takes a person willing to step up and say something. It takes a leader. Being a leader is difficult, and giving constructive feedback is a big reason why. When it comes to giving feedback, sometimes you end up being a leader whether you like it or not! Even if you’re not in charge, the task of giving constructive feedback may fall on you: and if you’re focused on moving up in your career, that’s a good thing. Here are some quick tips for advanced online business English students who have an eye on management positions.

What’s Your Goal?

The person isn’t the problem. The problem is the problem, so focus on that instead. Before you say a word, identify what the overall goal of the feedback is. That will help you phrase what you’re actually going to say to ensure it is direct and helpful. For example, if the goal is improving communication in a particular department, come prepared with examples of specific instances of the problem, as well as possible solutions.

Being Direct Vs. Being Rude

Being direct is good; it helps people learn and understand the truth. It can also be extremely difficult, and socially unexpected. By being direct, specific, and clear about what needs to change, you can ensure that there is no confusion. The “feedback sandwich” model that managers are often taught to use may actually cause more problems than it fixes for this reason.

A big factor is empathy. People can intuitively sense when you care, and your ability to care is the biggest difference between being perceived as direct as opposed to rude. An easy way to demonstrate this is by putting yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself what they are really struggling with, and then strategize ways to solve that issue. Sometimes a mistake is a symptom of a bigger problem, like burnout.

Non-Judgmental Language

Business English is all about using the right word for a given professional situation. When giving feedback, this becomes even more important. One easy thing you can do is limit your use of the word “you.” “You” can come off as judgmental, so try using “we” instead. Another idea is using “what if,” and phrasing the feedback as a question. This subconsciously makes the recipient feel like part of the solution process.


“What if your department starts meeting on Thursday moving forward?”

Compare the tone of that with:

“Your department needs to start meeting on Thursday moving forward.”

See how much warmer the first example sounds? That warmth will help you achieve the “goal” of your constructive feedback much better than a demanding statement.

Being willing and able to give respectful feedback to peers is a natural sign of leadership ability, and if you can learn to do it tactfully, it will be noticed by the people that matter. Of course, that’s the reason you chose online business English school Verbalize Now to help you improve your business English skills in the first place!

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