10 Ways To Be Tactful When Pointing Out Faults

how to improve communication and collaborations I was recently presenting at Business Builders and I was asked a number of questions one of which was “Sheryl can you tell me ways to be tactful when pointing out faults?”

That got me thinking what are the ways to be tactful when pointing out a fault. Below I have come up with 10.

Can you come up with ways that work for you?  What has happened for you when someone has been tactful and pointed out a fault?

In my personal experience the only time it has ‘felt’ tactful is when I absolutely trusted they had my best intention at heart. That they cared about me and their only reason for communicating a fault was to try and help me in someway.

Below are some of the ways I know work for myself and my clients to build that level of trust:

  1. Assumption – always be sure you have all the facts before assuming anything and giving your opinion. Ask more questions to understand what is happening for the other person to reduce as much assumption as possible
  2. Judgement – always be mindful that your opinion is simply that and whilst you may see something as a fault it may simply be a different way of viewing the same thing.
  3. Journey – I believe we are all on the journey of life and we are constantly learning Consider whether the other person is ready to hear your opinion and will sharing your thoughts now have a positive impact or not.
  4. Reflection – always double check before pointing out a fault to another whether you are also guilty of the same traits. Sometimes what we perceive to be a fault in others is simply a reflection of our nature and down falls that we are not yet consciously aware of.
  5. Trust – have you developed enough of a relationship for your opinion to be of value. Too often we give our opinions with no real understanding of what the other person wants to achieve, what works for them or how they prefer to receive criticism. Take time to build a relationship and if you don’t have a relationship the person, I would suggest you don’t yet have the trust required for that person to actually listen to you. And remember just because you have a ‘title’ that doesn’t mean you have the relationship. What I mean is just because you are called the boss, or the parent or the manager doesn’t mean that you have listened enough to develop that relationship and trust
  6. Intention – always be clear on your reason and intent for pointing out faults. Is it your ego just wanting to be assured of its own self worth and wisdom or it is going to make a massive difference to the other person
  7. Definition – be clear what you mean by tactful and be willing to accept no matter how much you work on being tactful you will always meet people with a different definition and therefore they will expect different behaviour. You might think tactful is carefully chosen words. They might think tactful is being told in private. Others might think it is the tone of voice and the variations will continue from one person to another.  Be willing to give and receive feedback for the purpose of building a level of trust that means you can speak your mind because both parties know that you come from a place of care and compassion.
  8. Equal Opportunity – Give Strength and Faults equal opportunity to be pointed out. All too often we only take time to criticise without taking the same amount of time and effort to acknowledge and praise.
  9. Evidence – always collect specific evidence and separate fact from the story you make up to make sense. For example if you want to point out the fault of someone and that fault is laziness. Then record what you actually are seeing and hearing that you interpret as laziness. Maybe you saw them rocking on their chair twiddling their pen and you have now given them the label laziness. Someone else might see the same behaviour and label it as thinking and processing or taking a break. It is always your perception.
  10. Impact- once you are able to recognise what you hear and see and what you infer from that you can then explore what is the impact it is having on you. This is the reason often we want to give our opinion and so be sure you are consciously aware of your own triggers. Once you understand the impact you can also explore what outcome you would like instead. Then not only can you articulate what is not working, and the impact it is having on you but you can also ask for your needs to be met as well.

I hope you have found this article of value and that video below also inspires you to consider how, why and when you point out faults in the future.


Sheryl – The Strength and Solution Detective
Transforming overwhelm into clarity and confidence through collaboration and improved communication skills.

Feel free to share below your thoughts or join us in the Facebook group Manage your critic – from Overwhelm to clarity in 7 steps

If you are struggling to be heard and understood and it is preventing you from doing your best work and living your best life then please do book a 30 minute call today with no obligation and I will happy set you up for success. I might be part of the solution you need and I might not but you will you know your next best step. Or you can thickpaperbackfront_FinalPurchase a copy of my book here








About the Author – Sheryl Andrews – The Strength and Solution Detectivedetective-happy-smaller

Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening, is well known for her fast speaking and her passion to make things happen. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough.

That was until she learned the importance of being heard and asking for support. In her book she describes the step by step journey she took to learn how to manage her critic turning her overwhelm into clarity in 7 steps.

Sheryl now runs retreats that encourage you to really listen to what you need to work, learn and live at your best with others and the confidence to ask for those needs to be met.

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Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening is well known for her fast speaking and highly motivational passion. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough. Sheryl use to find it difficult when criticised even when she knew they meant well and found it difficult to respond rather than react. A series of 3 events in her personal life exaggerated her emotional overwhelm and forced her to address this problem and conquer her sensitivity to criticism. Today she shares every day stories of every day people and inspires you to discover ways to gain clarity and confidence to change the way feedback and criticism impacts your performance.

View all posts by Sheryl Andrews →

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