The Original F Word

If you’ve ever been at work and someone walks over to you and asks, “Can I give you some feedback,” you have heard the F word loud and clear.

After all, your back becomes straighter, it wall yourself off from what you’re being told, and believe that knife is going to be deposited straight into your heart.

That’s what we hear when someone asks us whether we are open to feedback.

No one is ever trained to give feedback and we wonder why it hurts so much when we get it.

If you want to learn how to give feedback (criticism designed to help someone improve), you need to learn how to start giving praise, too.

The reason why we bristle at the idea feedback is we come to associate it with criticism.

Learn to praise.

“Can I give you some feedback,” you might start. Then tell them specifically what you liked about something that they did.

“I noticed how much effort you put into that last assignment. Thank you. It made a difference.” Stay there and listen to what they say. Smile as you listen. If they ask if there’s anything else, tell them there isn’t and walk away.

Praise and compliments should be on a 3 to 1 ratio.

The problem is so many organizations is that managers offer feedback on a 0 to 1 ratio — only criticism.

Once you start giving praise, you can ask people questions that lead them to a self-critique.

“I’m curious, when you did that, did you take into consideration . . . . If so, I want to understand why you drop that is an option.” You’ll notice that this brings about a conversation rather than a criticism.

“Did you consider asking me what my thoughts were or so-and-so about her thoughts before doing this?”

You’ll notice that this is reviewing the process with them for how they made a decision rather than offer feedback.

You can offer suggestions for the future from time to time but don’t make that the focal point of the conversation. Understand what their thinking was like and explore it.

You will get your point across and they will hear it differently.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a Career Angles | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Huntermember of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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