Fear of Feeback

When was the last time you got excited about delivering challenging feedback? Probably not too often. Even though leaders are expert at stewing over what bothers them, for some, the act of conveying the message can be grueling.

​​​​​​​But haven’t you noticed that after you step out of your comfort zone and do the difficult deed you feel so much better? In many cases it empowers you. After all, if you’ve been dragging around the dread of the conversation, you feel lighter and more energized after it’s over.

I’ve found that even the most direct, emboldened leaders have concerns about delivering feedback. Here are some of the things I hear.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings….
I feel badly telling her this….
I know that this will upset her….
I’m not ready to do this….

And, my personal favorite,

Lisa, why don’t you tell him….?

One of the positive outcomes from this fear of feedback is the humanity that emerges when leaders ruminate over the language they use, the nuances they express, and how to deliver concrete ways to improve. Here are some tips:

Prepare. This isn’t an impromptu act. Do your homework and enter the meeting completely prepared.

Always use notes. Don’t try to deliver feedback from memory. Your memory will fail you or you will appear totally disorganized.

Have the conversation in neutral territory. Talk in a conference room or outside of the office, not in your office.

Offer help. Ask the recipients how you can help them achieve the feedback you’ve just delivered. Don’t leave them hanging.

Give this a try and let me know your experiences. (And, of course, you can always ask me to do the heavy lifting.)

Have a great day!


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