The Workplace -- Giving Negative Feedback
- Are you in an appropriate mood or attitude to give honest, empathetic feedback?
- Is the other person in the right mood to receive it?
- Can the person receiving the feedback do anything about it?
- Will this increase your respect for yourself and for the other person?
- Are you willing to work with and support the other person?
- Are you sure that none of your hang-ups are in this feedback?
- Is it possible that instead of feedback or in addition to, this person needs more guidance, support, etc.?
Finding Your New Leadership Voice
You have recently advanced to a position of leadership, perhaps as the new boss of your former colleagues. How do you get off to a good start? According to Patricia Wallington’s article, “Lonely at the Top,” there are several challenges that may present themselves in the shape of passive aggressive colleagues: Leavers, Testers, Passive Resisters. On the other hand there are the supporters, the Boosters.
Navigate these obstacles successfully and enjoy the new opportunities of leadership:
Leavers are those who, for a variety of reasons, won't stick around. Let them go. Holding on to people who have already psychologically separated themselves from the organization is, at best, a temporary victory. At worst, you have marginally motivated employees who are probably second-guessing their decisions to stay. You will find it easier to rally the organization behind you when those who are dissatisfied are gone.
Testers are uncertain about your leadership. They will find ways to challenge your style of management and your expectations of your staff. Testing is normal and can be used to develop constructive relationships with your former peers. In your response to such challenges, the organization gets to see how you operate. Deal with testers by being patient. Take every opportunity to clarify your positions. Support experimentation by your staff as they learn how to meet your expectations.
Passive resisters will test your patience as they disagree with every idea. Even when they express agreement, they will often follow their own agenda anyway. Get passive resisters in-line by encouraging them to, according to the adage, "lead, follow or get out of the way." Work with them to bring their issues to you personally.
Nurture and cultivate supporters:
Boosters are those who are happy to be working with you, and they'll tout your leadership to others. Boosters can be anywhere in the company, from the CEO to an entry-level employee. They are your allies because some connection (an idea you shared, a joint accomplishment or a compatible personality) has created a positive relationship. Nurture relationships with your boosters, and they can be your advocates whenever you need support.
Excerpt from Patricia Wallington article, “Lonely at the Top”
Have more fun. Be kinder to yourself and others. Celebrate the gift of life each day.
Excavating Your Life
The practice of intentional personal change begins with excavating your life and finding where it hurts. To produce the results that you want in your life, commit to working at it, even when it’s painful (as athletes do when they train and practice daily to be the best they can be). If you have a strong desire to change, to transform your life, then you will be willing to notice daily what is working, what is not, where you can grow and what you are ignoring?
Trust yourself (don’t over analyze) and write down your response to the following:
1.Where are you stuck in your life right now? What is getting in the way of you producing the results you would like?
2.What are you ignoring that may be unpleasant? Are you missing opportunities?
3.What upsets you in your life? Are you distressed by the mistakes you are making? Is there a recurring pattern that keeps showing up?
4.Are your interactions with people frustrating or unsatisfying? Are your relationships not as productive as they can be? What are the issues that come up in personal and professional life?
These are areas that cause hurt or psychic pain. Identifying a recurring issue brings us closer to knowing its root beginning. We can then examine the assumptions we make that so often unconsciously govern our lives. Then assess their accuracy and evaluate whether these assumptions are helping us or hurting us.
After writing your responses, pick one area which you are committed to handle over the next 30 days. Talk with someone you trust and who supports you. Next month, go back to your notes and write down the current status of these issues. Notice the changes you are making. Repeat this exercise often and pick other areas to focus on.
Try these experiments to improve your relationship skills:
Listening & Observing
- Listening well means paying concentrated attention to what someone else is saying. Focus on the other person and pay attention to what is motivating or influencing him/her. For a couple of days, keep a log of your conversations, and record how often you interrupt others. You can do this informally by placing an object, like a coin or paperclip, in a particular pocket each time you catch yourself interrupting.
- Calculate the percentage of your conversations that include interruptions. How do you feel about your interruptions rate? If you’re unhappy with it, choose a specific person or situation and, for one full day, do not interrupt at all. Notice how this makes you feel and how others respond. See if you can identify what makes it hard for you to hear people out.
- Ask someone you feel comfortable with to help you practice paraphrasing or responding to feelings. Ask the person to talk to you about some situation he or she feels strongly about. Listen and make a paraphrase or feeling response to every significant point the person shares with you. Tape the conversation, then review it with him or her. Ask the person to rate each of your responses as “on” or “off.” For at least one “off” response, see if you can come up with a response the other person thinks is more accurate.
- Ask what, why or how questions without making the other person feel defensive. Add: “I want to be sure I understand what you’re saying.”
- Notice your intention when you communicate. Are you coming from a place of anger? Are you filled with judgments about the other person? Try the following:
a.Recognize your motives for communicating. b.Become aware of the judgments you may have. Tell yourself the truth. c.“Freeze” those judgments. d.Be intentional about the outcome you desire. e.Make it safe for the other person to communicate.
- When you feel safe receiving feedback, you trust the motives of the other person. You don’t need to defend yourself from what is being said. Making it safe means that the person won’t fear being attacked or humiliated. Feeling safe means you can hear almost anything and not become defensive.
- Introduce safety by doing something that makes a person comfortable. You can build safety by asking a question, showing interest in the other person’s view, smiling, making an apology, or even request for a brief time out.
Overcome Blocks To Your Focus:
- Feeling stuck will affect your focus. Ask yourself, what does “stuckness” feel like? Does it feel tight? Does it feel like a lid on top of you causing pressure? Does it feel like a boulder pressing down on you? Does it feel like being trapped in a small space? Keep asking, until you recognize what it is and it will slowly dissolve.
- Respect your body’s reactions. Are you feeling tense and agitated? What is your body responding to? What’s your body’s sense of what to do next? Is it giving you a message that something is coming up in your awareness? Maybe it’s helping you to bring your focus to a different direction.
- Focus on whatever gets in the way of your focus. It may be that you need to remove this obstacle first.
- Allow the “feeling” (that gets in the way) to expand. Let this feeling get bigger until you can recognize it and give it a name. As an example, if the recognized feeling is anger, ask yourself: what is all that about – the anger? Then “feel” what it’s all about.
- Don’t listen to your inner critic. Don’t respect this voice. It will focus you on how bad you feel and cloud reality.
- Ask these open-ended questions of yourself: What is really going on? What is underneath the lack of focus? What needs to happen to move through this?
In Choices, Frederic F. Flach writes, “Most people can look back over the years and identify a time and place at which their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or design, these are the moments when, because of a readiness within us and a collaboration with events occurring around us, we are forced to seriously reappraise ourselves and the conditions under which we live and to make certain choices that will affect the rest of our lives.”
When you embrace the commitment to do something differently, you set a new course and your life will change as a result.
Master the Inner Work of Confrontation
Think about a recent situation or circumstance when you engaged in a conversation which was upsetting and where you felt things were left unresolved (and you’re still thinking about it).
Use the following questions to help you reflect on your thoughts, feelings and actions. Spend a few minutes with each of these questions and write down your responses:
- What were your assumptions, judgments or beliefs about the other person, at the time of the event?
- What was motivating you at the time?
- What did you say or do that worked?
- What did you say or do that didn’t work?
- What were you feeling at the time?
After you have spent a few minutes responding to each of the above questions, take a break and come back to the following questions:
- Is there anything else you could have done?
- What are some other modes of behavior and attitudes you could adopt to serve you better?
- Knowing what you know now, what will you do next time?
Writing it on paper or on the computer is a way to help your mind focus and give you an opportunity to express your thoughts and your feelings from a place of authentic self. You may reveal to yourself that things are not what they seem to be.