One of the most important things about giving someone negative feedback is figuring out how to do it tactfully and positively.
Remember the first time someone told you you’d done something wrong, or the outcome you produced hadn’t matched their expectations? It probably hurt or bothered you in some way. None of us enjoy being given negative feedback, especially when we feel like the time and effort we put into something isn’t being appreciated, whether we tried to make a new dish, attempted to do a deep clean of the bathroom, or decided to embark on a new career path.
But in all honesty, negative feedback is an essential part of challenging ourselves and growing, as uncomfortable as it may feel. However, it’s not only important that we learn how best to receive constructive criticism, but also how best to give it — especially to our guy, by whom our approval and applause are both needed and wanted. So what’s the best way to deliver some negative feedback to our guy without hurting his feelings?
Express How Glad You Are That Your Opinion Matters
First things first: as a girlfriend or wife, our thoughts and opinions hold a special place in our guy’s heart. They likely mean much more than any random person’s, or even his friend’s and family’s opinions. This is a privilege, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly or mishandled. Before expressing any kind of negative feedback to our significant other, it's important that we clearly state how glad we are that our opinion matters to him, and thank him for wanting to hear it.
As a girlfriend or wife, our thoughts and opinions hold a special place in our guy’s heart.
Consider the Effort He Put In
Maybe our significant other tried his hand at chicken parm for the first time, decided to do all the laundry before we got home, or is attempting to write his first book. Whatever his new endeavor may be, if he put in a considerable amount of effort, any constructive criticism we give should take that into account.
Offering any words of encouragement before expressing negative feedback is the best way to make him feel like his efforts are recognized and appreciated, despite his shortcomings. It’s important that our guy feels acknowledged and celebrated for his efforts, even if he didn’t do a perfect job, especially because men tend to hold their value in what they achieve and do.
Think about How You’d Like To Be Spoken to, and Take His Personality into Account
It seems elementary, but this lesson we learn as children never ceases to be relevant: treat others the way you’d want to be treated. I can’t think of a single person who enjoys being given negative feedback, despite it being necessary sometimes, but that doesn’t mean there’s no good way to do it.
Knowing his inner workings and issues will help us understand which words will sit best with him.
Before delivering criticism, it’s essential that we consider how we ourselves prefer to be given critiques, as well as think about how our significant other responds best to negativity. Does he seem to prefer being open and direct, or does he need lots of sensitivity? Does he tend to feel like he’s not good at anything, or struggle with feeling like a failure? Knowing his inner workings and issues will help us understand which words will sit best with him.
Figure Out the Best Time and Place
Giving someone negative feedback takes tactfulness and planning — letting our guy know we don’t think he was successful in his venture in front of his friends or family, for example, would probably embarrass him and make him unwilling to listen to our criticism again.
Along with the correct setting, we need to take our current emotions, as well as our significant other’s, into account. If we’ve been at odds with him lately, it’s best to work on repairing the relationship before bringing up any negative feedback. If we’re both exhausted or cranky, now is definitely not the time to bring up our critiques. Ensuring a peaceful and private environment will help our feedback be received well.
Choose Your Words Carefully
It’s easy to exaggerate with our words when we’re attempting to make a point, saying “You always leave the kitchen a mess,” or “You never follow through when you say you’ll do something” (or maybe, in our opinion, it’s not an exaggeration to say that). Even so, using all-encompassing words like always or never makes it difficult to actually get our point across, putting the recipient of our criticism on the defense and unhappy with having their actions painted with such a broad stroke.
Using all-encompassing words like always or never puts the listener on the defense.
Instead, our feedback will be better received by him if we avoid strong words: “I’ve noticed you have an issue with finishing your projects, would you be open to talking about that with me? I’d love to encourage you in your pursuit, because I believe in you,” or “I’ve noticed the kitchen is getting messy. Let’s talk about steps we can take to keep it cleaner.”
Learning how to give negative feedback is just as important as giving it. Without knowing the best ways to deliver criticism, our words will likely end up hurting our significant other, or lead him to seek approval from other people in his life if he feels he can’t get it from us. Strive to be honest and constructive, while remaining thoughtful and sensitive.