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You Said What?

Angie Morgan, July 31, 2020

I updated my headshot a while back.  Or, at least I thought I did.  I showed it to my business partner, Courtney, who saw it and said, “Dude, what’s up with your shirt?  It looks like something you’d wear to a bake sale … not for delivering professional services.  Don’t go with it.  It’s a do-over.”

Ouch, right?

Well, not so fast.  Not only was she right, but the bake sale comparison sent me into hysterics.  She nailed the analogy and it still makes me laugh whenever I think of that comment.

One of the best things about our high-trust relationship is that we can be honest with our feedback … and, when the mood strikes us, we can throw a good, old-fashioned ribbing into the mix for shock effect and a laugh. (This doesn’t work for every relationship … but it works for ours!)

We know it’s taken years to build this level of trust to not take things personally.  What’s great about this level of candor is that it’s fast, direct, and leads to quick results.  I never have to wonder where I’m winning or where I can improve with Courtney; likewise, she expects and gets the same from me.

We’re hearing from a lot of you that feedback hasn’t been happening as frequently as needed in COVID times.  (And, in truth, it wasn’t happening as much as needed before.)  We also know many businesses are moving towards feedback cultures, ones that take time to build.

You might be wondering what it takes to build the level of relationship where feedback reduces defensiveness, is given right on time, and can be embraced … vs feared.  Well, let’s start with focusing on what you can control – you.

Here are three ways you can actively improve the frequency and quality of your feedback …all the while building your relationships.

Build Your Credibility.  People only care what you have to say if you are credible – meaning, they trust and respect you.  To build your credibility, focus on narrowing your say-do gap (the space between your actions and words).  Your consistency generates trust and conveys commitment, which means the weight of your word(s) are heavier when delivering feedback.  Besides, if you’re flaky, no one really cares what you have to say about anything.

Share and Tell.  You are the keeper of standards; share with people your expectations and tell them you’ll hold them accountable to them.  That way, when you give feedback on missed expectations, it was already made clear that was important so it’s no surprise when they get feedback.  Plus, if you’re going to hold someone to a standard, you better be modeling the example.  If not, you lack credibility and probably aren’t the best person to reinforce that expectation.

Lead with Love.  Yep, we said it – the “L” word.  Don’t worry, HR … we’re not talking romantic love.  We’re talking a genuine care and concern for the people around you.  When you invest in relationships, and work towards rapport, people know you’ve got their best interests at heart.  When you deliver feedback that’s designed to help someone, the quality and sincerity of the message improve.

Effective feedback takes time to develop; relationships take time to nurture.  There are no quick wins in this game; yet, there are actions you can take that move you in the right direction.  Don’t wait to get better at delivering feedback.  The sooner you can be intentional with your efforts, the better and faster you and those around you will improve.

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