Don’t Be Mistaken for the Grinch

The Grinch isn’t just a holiday character.  When giving team members feedback, some people sound like the Grinch year round.

So how do you give effective feedback?  First, it’s important to realize the value of positive feedback.  Most of us give far too little positive feedback to each other, especially positive comments that are straightforward and specific.  Saying to team member, “you did nice job,” is certainly better than saying nothing, but the feedback is even stronger with specific praise: “I appreciate how you calmed that anxious patient.”

Next, when you need to offer constructive feedback, make sure you are not doing the verbal equivalent of repeatedly pointing your index finger at someone’s face.  No one enjoys feeling like they are being scolded.  When you offer constructive feedback, pay attention to the pronouns you use and communicate your observations, not judgments.

Imagine if someone told you, “You don’t seem to be a team player because you are slow to jump in and help.”  How would you respond?

Contrast this with, “I’ve observed that when we get behind with patients you are hesitant to jump in and help.  I’m concerned about how you are helping the team.”


Replacing “you’s” and judgments with “I’s” and specific observations turns your feedback into something useful.  You can now create a dialogue and help guide your team member to improved performance.

It’s not easy to give effective feedback, especially when you need to fine-tune someone’s skill sets.  But by making a few conscious adjustments, no one will mistake you for the Grinch.

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