How To Give Negative Feedback Without Hurting Or Offending The Other Person

by Bob Walsh

Sometimes you might be in a position where you have to a) give negative feedback to someone else or b) lie.

If you care at all about the other person, then negative feedback is the right choice. Even thought it might not be what they want to hear, it could help them to further invest time, effort and resources into something that won’t pay off.


And your feedback could also give them the guidance they need to improve their work.

But at the same time, you don’t want to give your negative feedback in a way that will hurt or offend the other person.

Sounds like a dilemma?

Well, there actually is a good way to go about this.

Rather than giving destructive negative feedback, give them feedback that empowers them to create better work.

How To Give Negative Feedback In A Positive Way

The movie animation company Pixar uses a great feedback system called plussing (which is a term that Walt Disney came up with originally).

Peter Sims outlined this in his book Little Bets:

Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying “no,” the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, “I like Woody’s eyes, and what if we …” Again, notice the use of the word and rather than a word that implies a judgment, such as but. So, the director will take the rough material and say something like, “I like Woody’s eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?”
He’ll know what he likes when he sees it, at least directionally, and that’s the point of plussing.
“You always want to present your ideas in a constructive manner and be respectful of the other animator’s feelings,” Pixar animator Victor Navone says. “I usually start my suggestions with ‘what if’ or ‘would it be clearer if’ [the character] did it this way.”
As Pete Docter, director of Monsters Inc. and Up, puts it, “I think everyone [at Pixar] has gotten very good at plussing ideas or changing directions without judging.”

So pick up something positive about the work they did, and praise that – and then instead of saying “but”, just say: “and” (and insert a positive suggestion how this could be improved).

In the worst case, this could end up something like:

Wow, this is great, and what if you would … and … and … and … and … and then … and … and … and …

If someone delivers something that is so substandard, then you want to still give them a feedback that will actually help them address these issue, but packaged in a way that comes across as just sharing an idea.

Giving negative feedback without hurting or offending the other person is not always easy, and it can sometimes require a fine-tuned balancing act. But the more you practice this, the better you will get at it.

This is all part of developing your emotional intelligence. When you become more attuned to other people’s feelings and how to handle them, you’re building one of the most valuable skills of all. These hypnotic emotional intelligence training downloads can help you to increase your EQ fast.

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