Communication skills are essential for success in one’s personal life, in business and in all other endeavors one might take on. Often times, it isn’t the substance of a message or sentiment that matters; conversely, presentation matters many times more. In interpersonal communication, one’s intentions can be analogized to the substance of a message, whereas one’s tone of voice, the timing of wordplay and facial expressions can be compared to the presentation of such a message.

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that a whopping three-quarters of employers – to be precise, 73.4 percent of employers – are interested in interpersonal communication skills more than any other skill or trait.

We often struggle with giving proper feedback to subordinates, peers and friends who simply ask for our opinions on things out of the blue. Almost everybody can benefit from brushing up on their abilities to give feedback appropriately; always remember that there are a few right ways and tons of wrong ways of giving feedback – try to get it right the first time!

Ask
It might sound silly, but ask potential recipients of constructive criticism if it’s OK to give them feedback. This simple trick makes potential recipients of feedback feel as if they’re in control. As long as the feedback provider – in most cases, a superior or someone in a position of relative power is giving feedback – is polite, recipients should take feedback well.

Give Suggestions
Make sure to tell people how to improve. The work in progress has been told what they didn’t do right, failing to tell that person one or more ways that they could improve is a bad idea. They’ll feel like they got reprimanded and won’t be certain of how to perform such tasks correctly the next time around.

Never Use Generalizations
People often generalize in arguments or derogatory statements. They accuse others of “always” doing this or that, rather than call them out on particular things they recently did incorrectly. Generalizations make people feel bad – stay away from them.

Interpersonal communication skills are important to have in life. Giving feedback is one of the most important skills in the figurative interpersonal communication toolbox – get it right the first time.