Giving Feedback to Overly-Confident People
Updated: Nov 3
Some people may appear to not need and not want feedback about their work activities. Yet, their actions impact your success and can block others from completing their own responsibilities. Whether you directly manage this person or not, you know you need to say something. And you dread it.
Underneath the bluster… One factor to remember is that someone who brags or has unrealistic career goals for themselves is often the opposite of confident. Underneath their need to over-achieve or outcompete others, you will find insecurity and fear of criticism. They may be uncomfortable with themselves and crave nonstop praise to compensate.
Where you need to focus Your instinct may be to coddle them and use “psychology” to manipulate them with praise. But, here is where you need to stay rooted on your own goals and needs, your own authentic voice, and dedication to your role in helping the entire team (rather than just one person) succeed.
And you can do this calmly and without anger. You can do it with quiet self-confidence, not allowing yourself to be triggered into an emotional response. You can do it with your honest feelings of gratefulness for this person’s positive contributions and your honest desire to help them succeed.
Before the feedback conversation, answer a few questions
What are the most important work goals that I share with this person? (e.g. customer retention and growth)
What specific behavior am I observing that are getting in the way of our success? (e.g. ignoring promising accounts who aren’t the top spenders)
What specific changes in their behavior would most help us to achieve our shared goals? (cultivate other promising accounts and invest time and effort to grow them)
What emotional states do I want to tap into as I share the feedback? (emotional calm & confidence in my knowledge and beliefs about sales and our company’s values)
Drop the notes, and go tap into your calm state Expect that you may see a defensive reaction, but remain calm anyway. Provide constructive suggestions, but don’t enter into an argument. Pause and let some time pass between their responses and your replies. Repeat and rephrase your message if needed, but make sure to end the conversation by asking for the changes you want to see. Suggest that they make some notes about how they can improve this situation and offer to help them further soon.
Appreciate yourself for giving the feedback while you stayed centered You are staying dedicated to your own goals AND you are forming a new habit with you new behavior!
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