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Giving feedback is hard!

Providing feedback

I was consulting with a colleague the other day and he asked me a clarifying question after I offered my perspective: "So you think I should confront Bob right after he gets emotional in front of me with a question?"

Great moment to pause and offer more insight.

I said, "No - you'll want to get through that moment and then when Bob is on a high - a better mood - probably a different day, you'd circle back with him then. Take the onus on you and you could say something such as, 'Hey the other day I noticed things got a little tense. Let me know if I'm off. What could I do to help address our organizational challenge of budgetary constraints?'"

Similar to when we're in a rush on the road and a car is going slow in front of us, usually tailgating them and "pushing" them doesn't result in a good outcome -- plus the time to step away and reflect will give you time to cool and think of creative, kind ways to approach the other person.

Other ways I've failed and learned the hard way:

  • Don't boil the ocean. Pick one item you want to discuss with them. We're all human, right? 
  • Have to approach these conversations in a way that suits your personality and communication style. Aka, be your full self. 
  • Less direct sometimes is a good place to start since as humans our natural reaction is to go into fight-flight mode when we hear "I want to give you feedback". Indirectness is an art and can actually result in a dialogue instead of a monologue 
  • Remember, overall, meaningful positive reinforcement should always be given more than negative reinforcement. 5:1 is an aspirational (and maybe astrological) target -- to strive toward, not necessarily hit
  • You'll make mistakes. The gold is when you can learn from it and share t down the road ... ala this post :)
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