Here is the issue with feedback. We’re all afraid to give it. We’re afraid for lots of reasons:
Fear we won’t be liked.
Fear we’ll make the other person have a bad day, and then we won’t be liked.
Fear the other person will react emotionally, gossip about us, and then we won’t be liked by others too.
Our fear of acceptance is hindering our ability to help people that we care about at some level get better. Now, I know that might be a stretch for some of you… After all, you probably have people you work with that you care very little about and who grind on your nerves so bad that you’d rather give them a fast blow to the cheek than any verbal form of feedback. I get that. I’ve been there.
But ultimately you do care about them in some way. If not for self-preservation and making sure you feel accepted, then at least because humanity is programmed with the genetic mutation that we must honour our neighbours and respect each individual. But I digress. The point here is that Feedback need not be Painful.
I see feedback as being slightly a kin to friendly fire. Friendly fire can be painful to the receiver, but it is rarely ever done with malice intent, and assuming nobody dies, it always makes the other side stronger.
Feedback is, at its most basic form, a mechanism for self-awareness that sheds light on a behaviour that is hindering a person’s performance in some way. By bringing awareness, you bring a challenge forward. The person who accepts the challenge gets to play bigger and evolve to a newer, better version of him or herself.
If you haven’t bought that argument yet, consider the converse. Let’s say you choose to refrain from giving feedback. I’d suggest the consequences are far worse:
- The person in question doesn’t change. They remain oblivious to the issue and business performance continues to suffer. You are pulling your hair out from the frustration you feel.
- The person in question doesn’t change. Their performance catches up with them and now they are looking for new work. They may have liked you before, but now they resent you for keeping valuable information from them that could have lead to a very fulfilling career with the present company.
- The person in question finds out from somebody else about your issues with them. They have lost all respect for you because you were not honest and up front. They tell everyone you are weak and don’t care about building talent.