How to Not Be a Jerk

A regular generous act we can be part of is to provide the gift of feedback. We do it all the time, whether we know it or not. Sometimes with words, many times with just our face. Regardless of how we do it, feedback is common.

There is something refreshing about getting someone’s honest opinion on about an issue or something we have created. In certain cultures, feedback gets sugar coated or hidden so that people don’t get offended or embarrassed by their shortcomings. But this doesn’t build trust and it keeps people from getting an accurate understanding of areas they can improve on.

That is one of the reasons that we are drawn to people who don’t have a filter. Normally these are the types of people who say “I just call it as I see it”. Honesty. Refreshing honesty.

But, if you see ‘it’ like a jerk, you will call ‘it’ like a jerk.

Let me give you an example, if you watch someone give a presentation at work and you notice that they are nervous, and stumble over a few words, it is generous to provide feedback on what you have seen so that they can improve – if they are interested in doing so.

One way to give this feedback is:

“I enjoyed your presentation, thank you for taking the time to put this together. I noticed that you looked a little nervous and stumbled over some of your words, perhaps next time we can get together beforehand and practice a little bit. Would that be of interest to you?”

Generous.

Another way is like this:

“You were shaking like a leaf, and I didn’t understand half of what you said. Public speaking is not your thing. Stick to what you are good at.”

Jerk.

Both methods would be considered as “calling it as I see it”, one method just uses it as an excuse to be a jerk.

How you deliver feedback is just as important as what the feedback is. No one can hear it well if you’re a jerk.

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