Compliment publicly. Correct privately.

“That date is wrong.”
“Can you correct that typo?”
“You really need to…”

Do you really have to “reply all” with that?

I admit that I am biased against “reply all” – anyone who has received 104 “me too” responses surely feels my pain there. But when someone nitpicks in such a public way? Or worse yet, when reprimands are delivered in a group setting? That pushes an entirely different set of buttons!

We know all growth happens in the context of a relationship; we have a responsibility to make sure that relationship is positive, respectful, and never petty. A 4:1 ratio of positive interactions to corrective interactions is ideal; complimenting publicly and correctly privately makes it much easier to maintain that ratio.

I can be embarrassingly Type A (I’m working on it!) so I have to make a conscious effort to make sure that my feedback doesn’t cross the line from helpfully constructive to needlessly nitpicky.

The effort is undeniably worth it; as a peer, manager, trainer, and consultant, my feedback is better received when “correction” is reliably wrapped in good intentions, with a history of positive interactions. Everybody wins when correction is a precursor to growth & development.


This post first appeared at in June 2017.

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