Giving Constructive Feedback
Constructive criticism is an art and skill which takes practice. If possible, find a friend or family member who will role-play scenarios with you so you may practice your new skill. Before you start practicing these skills let’s take a look at tips in delivering constructive feedback.
1. Give feedback for the right reasons. Never give feedback when angry.
2. Use the “sandwich method”; start and end with good/kind remarks. This helps the person not take your words negatively.
3. Watch your voice to ensure that how you say something is matching what you are saying. The same is true for body language. Your words will not be well received if the tone of voice and body language convey anger or disrespect.
4. Make sure to give any negative feedback in private. Don't correct in front of others, especially patients. Instead, find a quiet, private place where you will not be overheard. I like to say, “Praise in public, correct in private.”
5. Be succinct. Simply state what behavior(s) needs correcting.
6. Talk about behaviors; do not attack the person. For instance do not say “You never do this” or “You never do that”. Remember to center on behaviors and avoid absolute terms such as never and always.
7. Bring a solution to the problem or are willing to work with the person to find a solution. I tell my staff that if they have a complaint to bring to bring a solution along with. We all have areas we need to improve.
8. In most American cultures eye contact is important. Use eye contact appropriately for the situation and for the other person’s cultural beliefs. Native American cultures, in general, see direct eye contact as disrespectful if you are in authority.
9. Remember to thank the person for listening to you and for offering up suggestions on ways to improve. Such common courtesies help maintain your relationship with the other person.
10. Remember to speak in a way you would want to be spoken to under the same circumstances. Yes, the Golden Rule still stands.
Now that you have read the tips, think about situations at work, at school or even at home in which you need to, or should have, given constructive feedback to someone. Make a list of four or five scenarios. Now find that helper!
• Examine and discuss the scenario with your helper so both of you know the situation and what needs to be discussed.
• Practice different ways to say what you would want to express. Don’t forget that you are not just practicing words, but also tone of voice and body language.
• Don’t forget to include ways to bring up a topic and bringing the person into a private location.
• Critique the session with your partner and make note of ways to improve.
Nurses interact with patients, family members, and other professionals on a routine basis. Nurses are also supervisors to other nurses or nursing assistants, or may be orienting or mentoring a new employee or student nurse. Constructively giving feedback to other staff member is essential in keeping up quality of care by improving skills. It also helps the continuity of that quality care as you encourage and correct patients and family members learn needed skills for home management. By using these tips you can improve your own skills and help others do the same.
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