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Revolutionize your feedback game: the hidden key

Ever felt that discomfort or even shivered when it's time to give "constructive" feedback to someone?

We know feedback is essential, right? And the desire to say what we really think is often there. But gosh, it's sometimes such an uncomfortable moment!

So we soften it, smother it in that good old "sandwich" between two layers of flattery, or we end up smoothing it so much that the person doesn't get the message, leaving both parties frustrated. Familiar?

What if I told you there's a way to give feedback that promotes development and strengthens the relationship? If you want to say goodbye to awkward feedback sessions and hello to exchanges that move things forward, read on!

Feedback: the fuel of progress

Nowadays, as a manager or team member, your mission is to help your peers and team members grow. We all know feedback is essential for progress and comes with many benefits.

Two women in an office conversation - feedback
The subtle art of feedback - Credit: wix

Research and best practices kindly remind you of the importance of

  • timeliness (another pressure element),

  • focusing on behavior, not the person (easier said than done)

  • making it a dialogue, asking for feedback yourself (sure, as if it weren't already challenging enough)

  • finishing by setting smart development objectives (sure, let's reduce by three points how much you bother me by the end of the month).

However, despite understanding the theory and the tried-and-tested sandwich approach, giving feedback remains an uncomfortable experience for many of us. Why so?

The real fear inhabiting you

Here's a perspective that tends to be forgotten. I hypothesize that, deep down, we fear that providing feedback may challenge or even harm our relationships. You know, that damned need to please and this fear of rejection? Worse, the assumed avoidance of conflict? There's a high chance your counterpart has the same need and fears. From that perspective, feedback quickly becomes a massive threat.

I've observed theory often neglects to emphasize the importance of nurturing the relationship when giving feedback. The real challenge lies in overcoming the fear of damaging the relationship in these key moments. At its core, it's about no longer disregarding the person and focusing solely on their behavior (as theory suggests).

Transform your feedback approach

To conquer this fear and truly master the art of feedback, it's essential to address the relationship itself during the feedback process. Here are a few tips:

  • Show appreciation and empathy: begin by expressing your genuine appreciation for the person (not only what they do well). Let them know that you care about their development more than any uncomfortable truth that needs to be shared.

  • Declare your intention: be transparent about your intention: you are doing it to "help grow and improve." Avoid giving feedback if you are not in this mindset: your non-verbal cues will betray you.

  • Be yourself: maintain your usual communication style when giving feedback. If you typically use humor, don't shy away from it. Keep the conversation natural while delivering the necessary message. Don't necessarily make it dramatic.

  • Highlight the benefits for the relationship: emphasize how embracing the feedback will strengthen your relationship, fostering mutual trust and understanding ("More anticipation will help us avoid less pleasant exchanges later in the project").

When good practices are not sufficient

The above tips may help. But what if you still struggle?

  • If your need to please outweighs these good practices?

  • If you have trouble distinguishing the person from the behavior and having your imperfections exposed by someone would be a real source of anxiety for you?

  • If you find it difficult to cultivate a relationship with the "incapable" person who pushes your buttons and challenges your view of professionalism?

  • If the assertiveness required by the situation is something you generally struggle with?

It's likely that you need to work on yourself at a deeper level this time. That's because giving feedback actually reflects back on you! This is where the key to comfort in feedback lies.

You can make feedback finally comfortable

Professor Daniel Siegel from UCLA explains it this way: "Our past experiences shape the architecture of our neurological pathways, affecting how we perceive and respond to the world around us. By understanding these connections, we can begin to rewire our brains and rewrite the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we interact with others." His work emphasizes the importance of understanding how our past experiences and neural connections impact our present behavior and relationships.

Reflecting and working on the fears and insecurities that may be hindering your ability to give effective feedback will transform your competencies and help you finally apply best practices.

If you're ready to "rewire" your brain at a deeper level to overcome this discomfort, let me know! You can break free from these obstacles in a definitive and quick manner. Working at such depth will improve all aspects of your leadership, from communication to ease with uncertainty, from management to your comfort in front of failure.

In a nutshell,

The art of giving feedback goes beyond applying theories and techniques. Reassuring about the relationship will be a valuable lever to foster growth. By specifically addressing the relationship during the feedback process, you can reduce fears and provide valuable and effective feedback that truly makes a difference.

Yes, you can make it a win-win: make progress on the job and help a person grow!

Yes, it can become a positively constructive moment!

Yes, you can even become comfortable with the process!

So? Ready to reposition the place of the relationship in your feedback-giving approach? Fantastic!

Does reading this article still leave you skeptical? Time for you to really boost your leadership? Let's share a coffee (my schedule is here)!

Have a great week!


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