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Leaders, Mangers & Supervisors: Why “Feedback” is a ‘four letter word’ …

“Feedback” is a ‘four letter word’ and our brain reacts defensively when we simply hear the word. We put on the brakes and stop listening (see post on “Lizard Brain”)and our defenses go up automatically.


Are you listening?

So how can you offer negative information so that someone can hear it, consider it and take action with a positive attitude instead of resentment?

First, starting with the positive, describe one or two recent actions that the person is doing right and well. Be specific about what they did or are doing and the difference it made for you, the team or the company.

Second, get permission to offer input with a question such as, “Would it be all right to give you some information (not feedback) I hope will be helpful for you?” Of course, they’ll say ‘yes’ especially if you are the boss, but the point is you are looking for a ‘head nod’ which indicates they are listening, and more open to hearing the information.

Third, ask “What are your thoughts about it?” Now you are separating the person from the behavior, engaging their brain into thinking about action and the future, rather than leaving them feeling judged or criticized.

If we start with the positive and believe that mistakes aren’t a sign of failure, but an opportunity to get information and adjust course accordingly, we are more open to hearing “feedback” and much more inspired to go forward with enthusiasm and get more done!

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