How do I give feedback on small stuff?

So you just had a team meeting and one of your team mates said something or behaved in a way you considered inappropriate. You are in a team setting so it matters that future interactions be free from this inappropriateness. But it wasn’t THAT bad… kinda feels too small to even address let alone bring it up with them formally or escalate to their manager.

If it mattered enough to give you pause, to put you on the fence about saying something to them, it is worth bringing up. But how can you avoid coming off nit-picky or causing defensiveness?

Two things: accusation audit and a reflection stance.

An accusation audit comes from Never Split the Difference. Basically, you beat the other person to the punch and claim all the negative things they could or that you worry they might say about your position. Definitely read the linked article and come up with your own approach, but I like the idea of framing feedback I am worried is too small or nit-picky with:

“I expect this will come off as nit-picky or too small to bring up”

With an accusation audit out of the way, we move on to a Reflection Stance. Rather than assigning blame with “the way you acted was bad and you should stop”, you hit them with “It is important to me that I be transparent with you about what came to mind in our last meeting when you said XYZ” followed with… you know… what came to mind. Did you feel condescended upon? Did you feel awkward or cringe? Were you fearful of the way the company looked after? Notice how none of these assign blame, but RATHER reflect your honest state of mind at the time.

After an accusation audit and being transparent about what came to mind, the other person now has all they need to make a perfectly informed decision about their future behavior. If they are worth keeping on the team, they will acknowledge and appreciate that you cared enough to commit a vulnerable reflection of your mindset to them so they could be empowered to act on it.

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