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How to Give Feedback Even When You Hate Conflict

How to Give Work Feedback When You're Averse to Conflict
Antonio Guillem/

Giving feedback is like giving an enema. Nobody likes giving or receiving one, but if it is necessary and you do it right, then you both feel better when it is done.

An online poll conducted by Harris Poll found that 69% of managers stated that they are uncomfortable communicating with employees. A whopping (but not surprising) 37% said they dislike giving direct feedback to an employee.

Many people would rather get an enema than receive feedback from their bosses
Alexander Pokusay/

It’s almost as if most managers would rather volunteer for that enema than to have to give constructive feedback!

But here’s the thing:

Feedback is good for us! Whether you are working as a manager, supervising a student, functioning as a team leader, or you just observe questionable behavior in a co-worker, those around you depend on you for feedback.

You can become good at giving feedback. Picture yourself as a coach for those around you. Saying, “Good job, good job” to all of the players won’t help them to become their best.

A good coach helps a player know his strengths and where he performed well. But an excellent coach will always be providing pointers on how the player can do better.

Try these tips for giving feedback in a way that nobody ends up hating you!

Show That You Care

Even if the person you are talking to is not your favorite person, you can still treat her with kindness. Try and put yourself in her place, or imagine how you would want your best friend to be given feedback. Then choose your words and tone to show compassion and honest concern for the other person.

Be Honest and Direct

You can tell when somebody is lying to you in an attempt to keep you happy. That helps no one. Just be clear and state what the problem is, give an observed example, and then bluntly state what you need to see instead. You could say, “The behavior that I saw was THIS, and that is against company policy. What I need to see is THIS instead.”

Set the Stage

Don't deliver constructive criticism in front of other employees
Andrew Grossman/

Never give feedback in front of others, unless it is only positive. Ask the person to whom you are giving feedback to meet with you at an agreed upon time. When you need to give constructive feedback, try to do this as quickly as possible. If there is a particularly emotional situation, let the emotions cool first, but address the changes needed as soon as possible.

Look for a Solution Together

Assigning blame will accomplish nothing, except you will make the other person mad. Remember, you don’t want that! Once you have presented the “problem” in a kind, honest, and direct way, shut your mouth. Let the other person have a chance to offer her part of the story and then ask, “What do you think needs to happen next?”

Stay Calm

Staying calm is an important aspect because high emotions tend to trigger high emotions in the other person. If you can stay calm throughout the discussion, the other person is going to respond to that. Realize that the other person WILL have big emotions when hearing feedback. Find a place in yourself to be okay with that.

Make a Plan

Together agree on what needs to change in the future. If there is action you want the other person to take, make sure that he is clear on what you are looking for. Maybe there is something you need to change as well. Be open to suggestions from the other person. Set a time and place where when you can talk again to see how the changes are working.

Then Let it Go

Now you are done. This last step is important to having the other person leave the discussion in a positive mind frame.

Take an extra minute to connect positively with the other person. Say thank you for something that she did, or try saying, “You’re a good nurse, and I really admire your compassion for our patients.” Then re-direct the conversation to something pleasant; see if you can get a smile and a nod before you finish, even if it is just by mentioning that you saw fresh donuts in the breakroom!

Giving feedback is not a fun thing to do. You might feel awful when you have to because you don’t want the other person to be upset with you. However, using these positive tips for giving feedback will empower you to be an excellent coach and mentor for those around you. In the end, it feels better than an enema!

A boss inspires confidence in his employee
Andrew Grossman/

Just think of all the greatness you can inspire in others!

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About Crystal Jones RN

Crystal Jones is a Registered Nurse who moonlights as a professional freelance writer. She uses her expert knowledge, skills and personal experience in health, education, parenting, simple living and mental health to provide content that teaches, engages and inspires readers. When she isn’t writing, working or crying in the bathroom she can be found in the kitchen burning dinner for her husband and 3 young kids when she would rather be out in the garden. Check out her work and how to connect at