Five Common Pitfalls When Delivering a Correction

By Cal Zant
December 3, 2018

Delivering correction to a team member can be uncomfortable. That discomfort can cause us to unknowingly do things that make it hard for someone to hear what we’re trying to say. Most of these pitfalls stem from doing things to “soften the blow,” but if we’re honest they just lower our anxiety and make us feel better about delivering the message, but don’t help the person receive the message they need to hear.

Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Sugarcoating – It’s easy for us to make something appear better than it really is, even unintentionally. Like artificial sugar, it may be sweet, but it’s not healthy.

2. Praise Sandwich – Before delivering unpleasant feedback, it’s common to start by saying something nice. Many of us do – and we unwittingly condition people to hear our positive feedback as a hollow preamble to the real message. Rather than feeling genuinely appreciated, they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. This pattern undermines our ability to give sincere compliments or feedback. We should just be honest and share what we have to say.

3. Chatty Kathy – Sometimes we should say what we need to say and shut up. Silence is not always a bad thing! We can sometimes talk ourselves into a mess.

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” – Proverbs 10:19.

We should say what we need to, and give them space to process it.

4. Dwelling on it – It can be so easy to make a correction feel heavier than it needs to be if we sit on it too long. When we know a correction needs to be made, go talk to them about it.

Don’t just sit there and think about it or make excuses for why you can’t or shouldn’t do it.

5. The Drive By – This is not a hit-and-run! This is the polar opposite issue from the Chatty Kathy. Being too short and direct can come off as cold and uncaring, and it will harm the relationship. Don’t rush the conversation, and always give them the WHY behind the correction.

As we keep these points in mind and lean into the discomfort, these conversations can begin to shape a more accountable, loving and Kingdom-centered culture.

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