Using “I” statements whenever possible helps ensure you communicate directly without vacillating or minimizing your concerns simply because you’re scared. Being specific is also important. Rather than saying, “You dropped the ball again,” try saying, “I’m concerned that I didn’t get the documents in time for the client meeting today.”

Make feedback part of the process

If you only level criticism when something goes horribly wrong, or, conversely, at formal performance reviews each quarter, you may want to shift to a more routine schedule. Delaying difficult conversations only lets problems to linger.

As management expert Joseph Grenny suggests, strive to make feedback “a regular ritual rather than an occasional blast.” Why? Gradually exposing yourself to fearful situations is the best way to overcome them. The more you practice giving feedback in lower-stakes, everyday scenarios as part of your role, the better at it you’ll become.

You can open up regular communication channels in many ways, including building in weekly one-on-ones, initiating daily stand-ups, or using team collaboration tools.

Creating a positive feedback culture will not only give you more opportunities to flex your newfound assertiveness skills, it’ll also help you strengthen rapport and trust with your team. And that, as a manager, is one of the best things you can hope for.

Melody Wilding is a high-performance coach, writer, and speaker.

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