A Thimble or a Beer Stein?

You’ve followed all the rules for an effective performance review with your assistant:  you found a time that works for both of you; you booked a private spot; and you made sure you wouldn’t be interrupted.  It all seemed to be going well until he suddenly turned defensive and withdrawn. What went wrong?

You may have misjudged his capacity for feedback.

I like to think of feedback as being something you pour.  Some people have a huge beer stein-sized capacity for receiving feedback and they are appreciative the more you fill their metaphorical glass (to a degree). Others have a tiny thimble – and if you overpour, all you do is make a big mess. So how do you tell whether someone is receptive to what you’re saying? It’s all in the body language.

Keep talking if:       

  • they are asking questions such as, “Can you tell me more?  Can you be more specific?”
  • they thank you for sharing your insights
  • they appear relatively calm
  • they are attentive and listening

  Put a cork in it if:      

  •  they start giving excuses
  •  they aren’t making eye contact
  •  they appear agitated
  •  they are red in the face
  •  they tell you why they did what they did

The key is to not let the session turn into an argument, or even a milder form of disagreement. You’re going to lose their respect and it won’t be a productive dialog.

Understanding a person’s ability to handle feedback is a valuable tool for productivity, retention, and the bottom line. In fact, it’s so pivotal – and so hard to get right – that we offer training on the art of giving feedback.

When have you been on the receiving end of positive feedback?   How has someone enhanced your career by sharing their observations and suggestions?  Feedback really can be a gift.

I would love to hear your experience.

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April 15, 2015

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