Posts Tagged ‘good business communication’
Last week I was on plane and the woman in back of me kicked the back of my seat throughout the flight. It made me nutty. The guy next to her talked so loudly, I’m pretty sure the people six rows in front and behind him could hear the conversation. And no one said anything.
Many of us don’t return food in restaurants that isn’t good. We often say nothing when people drop the ball and make mistakes. We replace ineffective vendors and service providers rather than tell them where they’re falling short.
People usually claim they aren’t giving feedback because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, think the person is not likely to change, or because they’re not sure if their complaint is valid. I don’t buy most of these reasons.
I think the real reason we aren’t giving feedback is because we don’t want to deal with the other person’s reaction. We are concerned – often rightly so – that the person will kill us off. We will be given the cold shoulder, excluded from projects, or thrown under the bus.
You may be wondering why I, who wrote a book called How to Say Anything to Anyone and who teaches other people to give feedback, didn’t speak up on the plane last week. I too have been trained to pick my battles and that if I have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Each day I also grapple with when to speak up and when to let things go.
The concern over giving feedback will get better if the people in our lives – personal and professional relationships – agree it’s ok to tell the truth and agree that there will not be negative consequences for doing so. Open and direct conversations will be had. Disagreements will be discussed and resolved as best they can. And when the conversation is over, it’s over. People can’t hold the conversation over your head or hold a grudge.
It would be difficult to agree to open and honest communication with the people who sit behind you on planes, but you certainly can make that agreement in your office and with your family and friends. Agreeing to tell the truth without consequence can be one of your organization’s values and a practice you establish in your personal relationships.
You can hire people who understand they are expected to speak candidly and then let disagreements go. And you can manage people who don’t speak up, who hold grudges, and who punish people for giving feedback. You can tell friends and family that you want candid relationships in which challenges are dealt with quickly and then the disagreement is over.
Making the request for open and honest communication and assuring people there will be no negative consequence for doing so is the differentiator between being able to speak up when you’re frustrated or say nothing.
When I was 27 my boss gave me a yellow sticky note that said “thanks” for something I had done well at work. When I was 29 he gave me a card when I broke up with a long term boyfriend. I still have both. And I’m way past 27 and 29.
He is the only manager in my entire career who wrote me a personal note. And it meant everything to me. He took the time to do something others didn’t. The notes were personal and thus they meant something to me – they still do. And the notes took him only seconds to write and cost almost nothing.
When is the last time you received a handwritten note? Not a note from Send Out Cards, that is made to look handwritten, or a note written by someone’s assistant, or a note that was typed and then hand signed? Rather, a real handwritten note, with a message, just for you? My guess is not in a long time.
Your employees like perks – paid time off, gift cards, bonuses, onsite yoga classes, concierge service, etc. But perks are not what result in engaged and retained employees. There is a lot of research on what results in employees doing their best work and being loyal to both their manager and to the organization.
Here’s a snap shot of some of the research on engaging and retaining employees.
- Need to trust senior management
- Want to work for someone who cares about them, is invested in their success, and with whom they have a good relationship
I won’t tell you not to give bonuses or gift cards, but I will tell you to give each bonus and gift card with a handwritten note. The handwritten note will mean more and last longer. I promise you.
I admit I love stationery. In fact, I collect it. I always have a stash of cards, ready to go for any occasion. And if you know me long and well enough, you will receive a handwritten note from me.
Because I love stationery so much, I’ve always wanted to create a line of greeting cards, and now we have. Today we’re launching Candor Cards. Thank you notes for employees designed to help you say what you want to say.
Use the cards at work and at home to:
- Say thank you
- Provide encouragement
- Give positive feedback
- Say you’re sorry
- Reinforce training
I hope you like and use our thank you notes for employees! Enjoy!
Spend less. Say more.
Most of the feedback we give and receive puts people on the defensive. We don’t do this intentionally. It just happens. We say how we feel, usually when we’re upset, and the other person responds.
Most of the feedback we give and receive is judgy, like the examples below.
Judgy – Not Real Feedback
Just the Facts – Actual Feedback
|“You ignore me in meetings.”
||“When I raise my hand to participate in meetings, you don’t call on me.”
|“You’re rude to me.”
||“When you pass me in the hallway, you don’t say hello.”
|“You won’t work with me. You go around me.”
||“We were supposed to screen potential vendors together. You scheduled and held the appointments without me.”
|“You’re not responsive.”
||“You usually reply to emails a week after they were sent.”
|“It’s hard to get time on your calendar.”
||“It takes three weeks to schedule time to meet with you.”
Becoming defensive when receiving feedback is a hard-wired response, like slamming on your brakes when the car in front of your does the same. The more people feel judged, the more defensive they become. If you want to be sure people become defensive when you give feedback, be vague. If you want people to be able to hear you and take action on your feedback, strip out the opinion (judgment) and give people just the facts.
Referring to the chart above, the sentences on the left are opinions. And opinions can be debated. The sentences on the right are facts. Facts are harder to debate. When giving feedback give just the facts, not your opinion. This will take practice.
The first thing out of our mouths will invariably be judgment/opinion. People who have participated in feedback training with me or who have read How to Say Anything to Anyone know I call the tendency to be vague Cap’n Crunch. Cap’n Crunch: “You’re doing a good job.” That’s sweet but useless.
When someone upsets you and you want to tell the person, prepare for the conversation by asking yourself these questions:
- What did the person do that frustrated me?
- What behaviors did s/he exhibit?
- What actions did s/he take?
- What was the impact on me?
Then practice giving feedback to someone outside of your workplace or group of friends (to reduce gossip and drama) and ask the person with whom you’re practicing what s/he heard. If your feedback is specific and clear, any lay person will interpret the feedback as you intended it.
Giving feedback, that others can hear, isn’t easy to do. It requires you to put your emotions aside, strip out judgments and opinions, and tell the other person the facts of what happened. The more you focus on the facts and less on how you feel about what happened, the better your conversations and relationships will go.