You can lead a horse to water…

If framed correctly, feedback may be a wonderful gift for recipients.  It may open their minds to new ideas, provide a window to view themselves as others do and contain a solution to problems that were hitherto unknown.  And that’s the shortlist!

Now before I go any further, let’s call a spade a spade – positive feedback is a compliment!  I don’t believe any of you are having trouble with that!  So it’s only the feedback that may cause misgivings that needs to be addressed.  Of course, that’s the feedback that contains your belief that some change in behaviour may be beneficial to the recipient.  And that’s all it is – your belief.  Don’t give it any more importance than that!  The recipient may not share your view and that’s okay.

But how do you give it constructively so it doesn’t cause offence and damage relationships? 

Consider these four elements and you’ll go some way to keeping the ego of the recipient intact thereby not damaging your relationship.

Privacy.  People aren’t stupid.  Advice, hints, tips and suggestions, call them what you will, strongly imply that room for improvement exists.  So when passing them on, do so privately so you’re not telling others at the same time that so-and-so has room for improvement.

Timing.  If someone is on a high after what they consider to be a stellar speaking performance, for example, don’t bring them down with a critique of how they could improve it next time.  You will significantly damage your relationship.  Allow their emotions to normalise then offer your thoughts in a constructive manner.

Balance.  Egos are fragile.  Make sure you precede any behavioural changes you are suggesting with at least three compliments on other behaviours you have noticed.  Then restate those compliments.

Your Status in their Life.  If you’re a nobody in their life – back off!  You must be a trusted someone for feedback to resonate.

Remember, you’re just one voice and frankly, no one else may share your thoughts.  However, if a few other trusted voices offer similarly framed feedback maybe the filly will drink from the stream.

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From those in Heels