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3 Foolish Ways & 3 Clever Ways to Start a Feedback Conversation

3 Foolish Ways & 3 Clever Ways to Start a Feedback Conversation

By Dr. Chris White

9 years ago




00:21 Foolish Way #1
00:35 Foolish Way #2
01:37 Foolish Way #3
01:55 Clever Way #1
02:54 Clever Way #2
03:42 Clever Way #4
04:26 #1 Dumb Thing Even Smart Leaders Do

Hi, I’m Dr. Chris White, best-selling co-author of The Flip Side and a PhD Statistician.

Here are 3 Foolish Ways and 3 Clever Ways to Start a Feedback Conversation.

Let’s start with the 3 foolish ways.

One, ever had someone say this to you: “Are you open to some feedback?”  You thought that would disarm me?  You thought that starting with a rhetorical question that puts most humans on the defense would be effective.  Wow!

Foolish Way 2 is to start with “I need to talk to you about something serious…”

Oh, do you?  Can I finish watching the game?  [have bowl and popcorn]  Or can I finish brushing my teeth?

By the way, that’s not going to be on the list of Clever Ways to Give Feedback is when someone has their mouth full, whether it’s brushing their teeth, eating a big bite, or at the dentist.

I know you may just be wanting to get them to focus on the conversation but think about what goes through most people’s heads when you say “I need to talk to you about something serious.”

They’re wondering if you hate their guts, if you are moving away, if they are fired, or if you just had a terrible health diagnosis.  Letting their mind wander around various worst case scenarios probably isn’t paving the way for them to hear your feedback.

Now, here’s Foolish Way 3…

How about this ill-advised intro to feedback: “I don’t really know how to say this…”  You don’t?  Then don’t say it! Or, at least, don’t be surprised that intro only ticked me off.

Well enough of the Foolish Ways, let’s talk about some Clever Ways.

Clever Way #1 is to start with: “I would love to debrief our recent meeting/discussion–what could I have done better?”  Wait, Chris, you got it backwards, we’re supposed to be sharing clever ways to give feedback and you just asked for feedback.  Exactly!

I did this once with a colleague once who I felt like had several things they could improve in a client meeting.  Instead of hammering him, and because I suspected I could also have improved, I started by asking him for feedback.

Clever Way #1 has another aspect you don’t want to miss.  Did you notice I used the word debrief instead of feedback?  The word feedback is like a bad word to most people.  Even if you are just asking for feedback, it can be intimidating to most people.  Do you have any FEEDBACK for me!!!!

Clever Way #2 is to say, “How would you want me to handle it if you…”  So your boss or colleague or family member tells a joke or told a story that you felt like was a little inappropriate or just make you uncomfortable.

Should you A) Interrupt the punch line with a big timeout signal and then publicly humiliate them.  Or B) Ask them 1-on-1 afterwards, “How would you want me to handle it if you made a comment that made me uncomfortable?”  You might say, Chris, this question borders on the rhetorical versions that I thought you said are risky.

Honestly, it could, but what’s nice here is that it gives people a chance to say, “I’d want to you tell me very directly” or maybe say “I would rather not talk about it further.”

Clever way #3 to start a Feedback Conversation is to say, “One thing that would help me is…”  To someone who always criticizes your ideas, you could say, “One thing that would help me is if you started with a quick positive comment.” or “One thing that would help me is if you looked at me more when we were meeting instead of being as distracted by your phone or laptop.”

Let me ask you, “What is it worth for you to be a better feedback giver?”  Really, think about what that’s worth.  If you could better mentor and stretch and address crippling issues in those around you, wow, that’s worth everything!

If you want to explore these concepts further, then’ll you’ll want to know about our webcast on the #1 Dumb Thing Even Smart Leaders Do. Click the link to register to watch it right now.

Whether you are focused on the bottom-line or have a deep desire to help your team grow and evolve, this webcast will help you understand the invisible and unproductive behavior patterns that are sabotaging you and your team. I think you’ll be surprised at the #1 Dumb Thing Even Smart Leaders Do. Don’t delay. Go ahead and register now.

Dr. Chris White

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