How often do we let important things go unsaid at the office \u2013 avoiding the unpleasant task of giving honest feedback like the plague? I submit it\u2019s far too often. We all have our reasons; We want to be perceived as someone who gets along with everyone, we don\u2019t want to hurt others\u2019 feelings, or, frankly, we want to keep our jobs. At worst, this results in failing to call out bad behavior, letting our colleagues say and do things that shouldn\u2019t be tolerated. At best we don\u2019t give people the truth about how they\u2019re perceived, or when they\u2019re acting in a way that\u2019s career-limiting.\nThe downside of flattery\nWe tell a mountain of white lies throughout our careers: \u201cYour presentation was great!\u201d (it wasn\u2019t), \u201cYou\u2019re really good at [x]!\u201d (you\u2019re not). Giving presentations is a common fear, so it\u2019s only natural to try to make folks feel good when they\u2019ve given a less-than-great performance. Better them than us, we say to ourselves. But when we do this, we\u2019re not helping. In fact, we\u2019re doing our colleagues and our entire organization a disservice; We\u2019re failing to help those around us get better at what they do, correct their missteps, and improve their weaknesses.\nMy own example\nI had been running weekly meetings with my sales team for some time. Each week, a member of the team would research a topic and give a short presentation. The goal was to ensure the entire team was always learning something new. That was the intent, at least. About six months into the weekly meetings, due to the complexity of everyone\u2019s schedules, we ended up doing away with them. One of my direct reports made the comment, \u201cYeah, I hated when we did those meetings. They weren\u2019t very helpful.\u201d The comment shocked and saddened me. They were a lot of work to coordinate, and if they weren\u2019t helpful, I wished someone would have had the bravery to speak up and say so. I would have immediately changed them. In this case, we wasted everyone\u2019s time, and it was all avoidable.\nSo, what to do?\nWhen in doubt, speak up. Someone else will undoubtedly be relieved to hear you say something they were quietly thinking to themselves. With that said, when you\u2019re more honest with folks, be prepared for them to be more honest with you - and a good portion of them may not be kind when offering their feedback. Even so, you\u2019ve got to look beyond the person\u2019s attitude, words, and intentions and think about what they\u2019re trying to show you about yourself and how you can improve. Take each criticism as a gift to learn and grow.\nKeys for success\nWhen you give feedback, there are a few tools that will help you be more successful. I work with a colleague who\u2019s great about giving honest feedback and, in fact, has called me out on my less-than-stellar behavior multiple times. He always delivers his feedback with kindness, though, and I understand his only goal is to help. It never feels mean spirited or self-serving. Because of his approach, I usually take his criticism to heart and change, though there are plenty of times I continue to fail a few more times in the exact same way before getting it right. So, other than delivering with kindness, what does my colleague do right in offering feedback?\n\nHe tells you right when it happens. He doesn\u2019t wait until the next time you screw up. He tells you immediately, giving you a chance to fix it the next time.\nHe takes the emotion out of the criticism, never making it personal. He simply states the fact of what you did, the impact that it had, and what you should try to do differently.\nHe doesn\u2019t ever bring it up again. He doesn\u2019t lord it over you, and he doesn\u2019t try to make you feel bad about it.\n\nWhen giving feedback, I often think about how my colleague would handle the same situation. I don\u2019t always get it right, but I\u2019m learning and getting better every day. If you give feedback right away, focus on the action rather than the person, and forgive others (realizing that we all screw up from time to time), you can also become good at giving feedback. In time, those around you will follow your lead and do the same for you. And if they continue to be complete jerks, then remember to look beyond their jerk faces and receive the amazing gift they\u2019re giving you nonetheless.