I was given some great feedback from a friend last week which was absolutely warranted and correct. I hated it. It was not what I wanted at the time – even though it was right and I probably ‘needed’ to hear it. I spent most of the night pondering the points made and debating their truth; wasting an awful lot of good sleep time.
Trouble with feedback is that unless someone asks you for it, it is seldom wanted. If it is not wanted it is unlikely to be accepted and acted upon. This is the difference between want and need.
Over the years I have delivered a lot of assertiveness training and whilst there is a lot of talking ‘at them’ suggestions (which have significant validity) this is my favourite. It takes more time at the outset but if you can; it does give a better return on time invested by both you and the recipient.
1. Probe what they might have done differently if one could turn back time.
2. Confirm the behaviour that they think could be changed.
3. Describe how you would feel if they did this.
4. Confirm how this new approach would benefit both.
The important thing when giving feedback is to avoid getting clichéd responses “I’ll show you!” (aggressive); “it’s not fair” (passive) or “I can’t help it – it’s not my fault” (manipulative).
When attacked it is natural to respond with this childlike behaviour as it is completely instinctive to flee or to fight. When in reality, it would be better, to take ownership and simply to put it right.
Actually … I wish I hadn’t behaved badly in the first place!! Hey ho!