Nobody likes giving negative feedback or delivering potentially disappointing news to a direct report. And while many individual contributors know that they actually need negative feedback to get better at their jobs, they typically don’t relish the idea of finding out that they’re falling short of expectations.
Nevertheless, negative feedback– when delivered carefully and thoughtfully– can help individuals and teams course correct, develop their skills, fortify their relationships, improve their impact on the business, and grow their careers. When delivered poorly, however, this feedback can create feelings of social rejection that are no different from feelings of physical pain in your brain.
One of the mistakes that managers make in delivering feedback (a mistake that is very simple to correct) is using what I call “assumption words”. And there are two assumption words that people leaders use a lot, often without thinking about the impact.