You Want Me to Be Honest Don't You? NO!

Over the journey of my career I have heard numerous references to Candid Conversations. We want candid conversations…. We need candid conversations to improve….. We need feedback…. Etc.

I have had people over the years almost brag about telling someone how they felt and somehow justifying by using this phrase, “You want me to be honest with you, don’t you”?

What I have learned is that those people are actually ready to criticize and want to create an invitation to do so by using that phrase.  I’ve met people who almost brag about their self-worth by using this phrase.

Sweet pea, let me give you some wisdom.  People want and need feedback, they don’t want or need insults.  If you approach the conversation with, “You want me to be honest with you, don’t you”, then you will not achieve the results you want. 

No one likes a critic:  What science can tell us about criticism by Andrea Ayres, give us great insight into how the brain interprets criticism.  The phrase that stands out to me is, “If we view criticism as hostile we are less likely to seek outside help and view our relationships as supportive”.

Exactly.  We all want honesty but we need it delivered in a way our brain can interpret.  Hostile honesty won’t work.  That dog just won’t hunt. 

However, if we approach a situation with care, we will increase our odds significantly.

As a child I showed dairy cattle competitively.  Breaking a calf to a halter is tough. I mean it’s tougher on us I believe than the calf.  I had Guernsey calves.  Truly stubborn creatures.  We would coax them with feed and water.  Sweet molasses, yum.  You would think they would work for food…. Not so much.

I had a particularly stubborn calf.  She was beautiful, big and strong.  And she knew how to use her strengths.  I would tug on her will all 87 pounds of me.  I got nowhere.  I was ready to give up.  My Dad taught me an important lesson.  He loosened the strap, rubbed on her chin and more or less nudged her to the water.  Never jerking the strap.  After she drank, what seemed, about 15,000 gallons of water he coaxed her back to the grain.  He said this calf has too much potential to just give up on her.  He taught me how to work with her.  Never with hostility.  Always steady and slow.  We found she loved to have her chin rubbed.  Would do anything for it.

I am not suggesting people are like cattle, but I would suggest approaching any situation with hostility is a lose lose.

Steps to giving feedback:

1.       Ask the person if they are willing to receive some feedback.

Can you fathom the result of giving someone feedback just after they were in a stressful meeting?  Or just after hearing bad news?

Sugar, if you want to be effective check the ques from the person first. 

2.       Keep your feedback focused on fact.

Since it’s unnatural for the human brain to process criticism, focus on facts.  A brain will interpret logic.  Bring examples.  Concrete examples.  And when the person you are visiting with goes on a rabbit trail, bring it back to point, or you will definitely get lost in a sea of emotion.

 

3.       Use “I” statements

I just love it when someone brings you feedbak and uses phrases like, “the office thinks you are too ….,” or “I’ve had people come to me complaining about….”  I’m going to give you very strong advice.   If you cannot give an “I” statement, then you need not be in that office offering feedback.  My interpretation is this is a weak leader.  Attempting to use others to manage a situation.  Quite frankly, as a leader, if you haven’t observed the same bad behaviors, then maybe the problem isn’t with the defendant.

“I” statements mean you use phrases such as, “I was disappointed with the report you submitted,” or “I didn’t understand why you said….”

4.       Listen/Accept Feedback in return

I’ve known so many leaders ready to dish out feedback, but when it was given to them, their behavior was anything except exemplary.

If someone is willing to listen to you give them feedback, and they want to return the favor, then model the right behavior.

I witnessed a leader, loose sense of the word, give his direct report some type of negative feedback, by the looks of body language.  I would also assume that direct report challenged him.  He kept nodding his head and seemed to take the feedback. 

Sadly, this leaderish person, returned to his managerial wing and then broadcasted to all those sr. managers what he told his direct report and laughed at their attempt to rebuttal.

Seriously, like that form of temper tantrum wasn’t going to get back to the direct report.  I assure you, a come to Jesus meeting quickly followed.  Nobody won that day.  But how foolish it is to be so inconsiderate.  The tarnish to the leaderish person reputation started that day.