Hearing Between The lines: How To Get What You Need When Feedback Goes Wrong (Part 2)
In a prior post, I note that although we want feedback, it is often given badly. It can be:
In Post 1, I covered the first two areas. Let me now cover the last two areas.
Irrelevant Feedback is often not pertinent, not asked for and doesn’t help you solve your problems. You find it hard to listen to all the unnecessary information.
Lisa asked her colleague for some guidance as to how to approach a co-worker concerning a project. This co-worker was known to be difficult. Lisa’s colleague wouldn’t stay focused on the problem and went on a long diatribe about the company’s lack of performance feedback to difficult people and how these people were ruining the workplace. Lisa’s eyes were glazing over. As an aside, the colleague then mentioned that the company offered training to help with people issues. A better tactic than tuning out is to focus on the information that you need as soon as you hear it (or redirect the conversation toward what you really need.) Explore those pieces with targeted open-ended questions. Lisa zeroed in on the comment about available company resources and asked: What training is available? How often is it given? Who knows about it? By using this method, she was able to get the training she needed to successfully deal with her difficult co-worker. Personally OffensiveThis last category of feedback is the most difficult for people to deal with. It will often contain negative opinions and unsupported assumptions about why something happened. The language may be inflammatory, “You did this” or “You’re always or never” doing something. The tone of voice may be accusatory, harsh, and sarcastic. Most of us who receive this type of feedback will become angry and defensive and explain ourselves all of which are seen as excuses. All of these behaviors raise the emotional level. The damage is harder to repair because it can touch us very deeply. When Bob’s promotion was given to someone less senior and with fewer qualifications, he decided to “let it all out.” He accused his boss of “having it in for him” and hiring someone who “favored the party line.” Effectively dealing with offensive feedback means managing your emotions and not getting angry and defensive. It requires you to be reflective and not explain your actions in the heat of the moment. It also means acknowledging the other person’s view of things as simply the way they see it, even if poorly presented, and not escalating the emotional level. Very fortunately for Bob, his boss was able to hear the pain and disappointment behind the attack, not respond in kind, and therefore was able to help Bob through his crisis. We all need feedback to grow and change. By using these methods, you’ll be able to get what you need when others are not at their best.