Give Feedback When You’re Not Upset
We’ve all received work from another person that wasn’t what we were expecting, hit reply, and told the other person what we thought. Then we dealt with the consequences.
A few tips for giving feedback to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t:
Don’t give feedback via email. Ever. You can’t manage your tone or see the person’s reaction.
Practice the 24-hour rule and the one week guideline. Wait until you’re not upset to give feedback, but don’t wait longer than a week.
It’s almost impossible to give feedback without putting the other person on the defensive. Becoming defensive when receiving feedback is normal and natural. It’s a way to protect ourselves when we feel attacked.
When people are defensive, it’s hard to listen and respond. The less defensive the other person becomes, the easier it is to communicate with that person. People will be less defensive if you give feedback when you’re calm and choose your words carefully.
Communicate in a way that the relationship needs versus what you need in the moment.
When we give feedback when we’re upset, we’re really communicating for us, not for the other person. I didn’t get what I want. I’m upset. And I’m going to tell you about it. Then the other person gets upset and now, in addition to you not getting what you wanted in the first place, you have to do damage control.
Communicating in a way the relationship needs means choosing the timing, words and method of communication that is likely to produce the result you want – the other person being able to hear you, while becoming minimally defensive, and taking action. Giving feedback when you’re upset, especially via email, will not produce the result you want. You’ll only damage your relationship.
Being a good communicator and maintaining good business relationships requires patience and self discipline. This is something I work on ALL the time. Last week I sent one of my vendors feedback via email, when I was upset, and spent two days trying to recover. I sent a minor email with critique, he felt attacked, and I damaged our relationship.
It doesn’t take much to raise someone’s defensiveness to the point that you have to do damage control.
Wait to give feedback until you’re not upset. Don’t send an email. Pick up the phone or walk to the person’s desk. Deliver the feedback in a way the other person can hear you. Be ready for him to become defensive. It’s human to become defensive. You can’t eliminate defensiveness, but how you deliver feedback can greatly reduce it. And you’ll get more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
Read How to Say Anything to Anyone and get the words to have even the toughest conversations.