Why the “velvet hammer” is a better way to give constructive criticism

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When you communicate something to somebody, it’s irreversible and irretrievable. You can’t take it back, and it can be difficult to know what words to say in order to approach somebody and give them feedback. Joy Baldridge. Author

The old methods of feedback can have a ripple effect with your team, resulting in people calling in sick, getting upset, or even quitting. But conflict avoidance isn’t the answer.
Instead, use the Velvet hammer method – that is, soft like velvet, but packs a punch.

The Velvet Hammer Method

Start with, “Got a minute? Great. I need your help.”

It should be said in a friendly way. It’s a disarming way to get attention sincerely and genuinely. And you do need their help because their behavior is becoming problematic.

Next, say, “I noticed that [problem behavior goes here.] (Pause) I was wondering what’s causing this problem (pause), because it cannot continue. What do you suggest we do?”

Note that the word ‘because’ is one of the 30 most persuasive words. Everyone wants to know what comes after it.

The approach is designed to be non threatening, compassionate, and open-minded. It finds positivity in the way you communicate, manage, and lead, especially when you need to correct a problematic behavior.

The traditional good-bad-good “dirt sandwich” method doesn’t work. “People still use it because they’re nervous about being too critical,” she says. “The velvet hammer is actually a verbal contract you are creating with another person to better yourself as a leader and better them as a team member, colleague, or friend.

The good-bad-good “dirt sandwich” method doesn’t work. “People still use it because they’re nervous about being too critical.

The velvet hammer is actually a verbal contract you are creating with another person to better yourself as a leader and better them as team member, colleague, or friend.

When leaders use the velvet hammer, the conversation goes better for everyone involved

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