6 Ways to Correct a Colleague Without Being Offensive

Your colleague keep saying the wrong thing in a client meeting. This new girl just can’t seem to get your name correctly. Your direct supervisor has the wrong idea of the work process. 

Pretty sure you know what we are getting to here. Someone got the wrong idea about things and blinded by inaccurate information, you feel the urge to correct them but at the same time, you don’t want to come across as offensive and condescending. 

How to get your good intention across without being offensive? Here are some tips for you:

1. Be positive and affirmative

We all have emotions and it’s extremely challenging to receive honest feedback from others. Your first line can make or break the person. You don’t want to be the person who made your colleague cry in front of everyone because you were too blunt. 

Since you are correcting mistakes, your approach should be more positive and affirmative. Remember to soften the blow a little bit. 

Try saying: “Hi Michelle! I can tell that you’ve been working hard for this project and it looks promising.”

2. Drop the authoritative attitude

Maybe you’re the star employee in the company and perform better than most other people. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to carry the authoritative attitude around and act like you’re above everyone else. 

Being overly bossy and judgmental when correcting your colleague will only make you look condescending and rude. Try using a friendlier approach and have a open discussion instead.

Try saying: “I was looking at the proposal you did earlier and I think there are some parts that we can improve further. It is okay if we review it together?”

3. Ask questions and put yourself in their shoes

By using question like the above example, it helps to take the confrontation down a few notiches and from awkward correction to a friendly discussion.

Simply phrase your thoughts as questions instead of a blunt statement makes it easier for the other party to open up and not trigger his or her defense mechanism. As a result, the communication will be more effective and productive.

Try asking: “I see here that you’re planning to engage this freelancer in the upcoming project. But do you think it’ll be more efficient to bring her in later?”

4. Use a kind tone and watch your words

Your tone of voice and the words you used when correctly someone will dictate if your action came across as constructive or condescending.

Yelling or screaming is definitely a big no-no. But also avoid using short replies that might make you look impatient or unwilling, and also take note of your body language for example, try not to cross your arms and lean forward from your chair when talking. All these non-verbal cues can tell a lot more than your words.

5. Be factual and show proof

For trivial matter such as someone mispronounced your name, you should definitely skip the detailed documentation. However, in most cases, proof is vital to show that you have logical reasoning behind your intention and you aren’t trying to make anyone look bad based on false assumption.

Try saying: “I noticed that you missed an appointment with one of our clients last week. Would you like to talk about it?”

6. Offer to help

Don’t always see the worst side of everyone. Your colleague most probably didn’t mean to mess things up and try to create extra work for you. Instead, why not be supportive and offer to help in time of emergency? It’s also the best way to show that your intention to help is genuine!

Try saying: “Thanks for being receptive to my feedback. Let me know if you need any help with the changes. I’m more than happy to assist!”

 

A healthy work environment with open communication not only opens up new possibilities between you and your employees, but also helps to build a strong foundation of trust among each other. Put these tips to use and you’ll definitely get your intention across in a helpful and constructive way!

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