It's the leader's job to provide correction, clarify boundaries, and enforce consequences.
And in most circumstances the leader needs to communicate in such a way that preserves good-will and strengthens relationships.
Here's a few suggestions to incorporate the next time you're in a similar situation:
Pause. If you're upset, exasperated, or exhausted, you're not in a good space to communicate effectively. The time lost to regaining your composure is not more valuable than the reputation lost to speaking in anger.
Be clear, even if it doesn't feel kind. If it's true, it's ultimately kind. Seek the truth, and then communicate clearly.
Do identify the behavior, do not assume intent. Constructive criticism immediately goes off the rails when you assume why someone behaved the way they did. Suddenly we're litigating another's intention rather than the behavior and its consequences. Stick to the observable facts.
What have you found to be helpful when delivering difficult feedback?
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