Giving tough feedback is difficult. I was recently asked for advice on this, and here were my 4 suggestions:
1) State your positive intent. Affirm the relationship. Tell the person how much you care about them. It’s easier to accept tough feedback when you’ve just been reminded how much you’re valued, appreciated, and loved. It’s easier for us to accept tough feedback when we know it’s coming from a place of true care.
2) Ensure that your feedback aligns with THEIR goals, not YOUR goals. When we give people advice on how to change or alter their behavior on ways that matter to US (but not them), your feedback will NOT be taken. It’s also likely it’ll damage the relationship. Giving others unsolicited feedback or advice is already tricky, but if it primarily benefits YOU, then it’s likely coming from a place of ego or wanting to be “right”. For feedback to be well-received, it HAS to be in the best interest if the person you’ve giving it to.
An additional word on this- using words like “SHOULD” or “SHOULDN’T”- never goes well. Instead, offer your feedback from a place of it simply being YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Not reality. Not “the way it is”. Just your opinion. You might say: “If it were me, something I’d consider to help with this would be….”. That can be much easier heard than, “Never, ever do that terrible thing again”.
3) Tie your feedback into things that your audience has SAID are important to THEM. This is a corollary of #2. If someone has stated that they want to develop their career, build better relationships with others, lose weight, or grow their business- you can LEVRAGE those precise SENTENCES when you give feedback. It’s hard to argue with yourself, so reminding people of the things that they, themselves, have expressly SAID matter to them works WONDERS. Saying the words, “YOU SAID this was important to you, and so I want to give you some feedback on it”, as you share your feedback can help others focus on what they really want in life. That makes hearing tough news easier to stomach.
4) Show vulnerability. Having the humility and courage to tell people that YOU have struggled with these things too, YOU have walked a mile in their shoes, or that these are mistakes that YOU have already made, makes you more RELATABLE. Instead of others feeling that they’re being judged by someone who knows better or best, you can interact with people from a place of sameness- that you, yourself, have had these same struggles, and you’ve been there, too. When we feel judged or criticized, our subconscious minds seek to protect us and keep us safe. Defensive, “flight or fight” reactions quickly come out to play, and with those in motion, it’s hard to really HEAR what’s being said. If you come to people from a place of sharing and storytelling, you help others not feel so alone- and stay calm. This will really help you be heard.
Do these things, and I know you’ll improve your chances of making a difference. #feedback #coaching