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Envision Success with the Feedback Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

So you’re uncomfortable going face-to-face with someone you really need to give feedback to…

You’re like everybody else.

Know you’re like most other human beings on the planet. Everywhere in the world, people avoid giving honest feedback about something they want changed. Yes, there are cultural differences—with people in some countries more blunt or shy about feedback than others. But only a small percentage of leaders or employees in the whole world give honest, helpful feedback.

Feedback is scary. You might alienate people or get a bad reputation at work. You might lose your friends or make your boss angry. As much as you may think of yourself as direct and or even brutally honest with people at work, my research shows that you are probably wrong. The majority of your co-workers and direct reports are probably in the dark about what you want them to do differently. The odds are great that you are indeed avoiding giving feedback and the odds are equally great that starting to give great feedback will make the work go better.

How to be way better at feedback than everybody else

Feeling better about giving feedback is the key to your success. Even more important than your feedback technique is how positively you feel about helping the other person do a better job. Research on brain science concludes that your stress will go down and you will deliver the feedback in a way that is well-received. Here are four things you can do to start feeling better about giving feedback:

Feel Better Tip #1: Congratulate yourself 

You have decided that something has to change fast. You are sick of the status quo: The project is going south, your boss is acting on the wrong priority, or your co-worker is not delivering what you need. You realize that a feedback conversation will get the work back on track, help the other person, and make you saner. Bravo! By making this decision, you have already increased your chance of success. By taking personal responsibility to help people fix things, you are in the position to make huge improvements.

Feel Better Tip #2: Envision the other person succeeding

Before you even talk to the other person, just picture the other person doing all the right things. Imagine their customers delighted and thanking them for great service. Imagine getting what you need from them early, not late, and the work product surpassing your expectations. Imagine them smiling, enjoying their role, and learning new things fast. 

Feel Better Tip #3:  Note all the ways that your feedback will help the other person, the organization, and yourself

Make 3 columns on a page and write how your upcoming feedback conversation will benefit the different parties involved. Under the “Me” column, you may write: “Freeing up more time” In the “Organization” column, you may write “happy customers.” Keep listing benefits until you start to feel more excited about starting the feedback conversation.

Feel Better Tip #4: Build up your positive regard for the other person and note all the ways they’re a valuable team member

Before you give the feedback, bring to the front of your mind all of the positive qualities of the person you are giving feedback to. How are they an asset to your organization? What expertise do they bring to the team? Why do you want to help them build their career? Having these things easily accessible in your mind will assist you while you have your feedback conversation and it will increase the likelihood that your message will be well-received.

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