Does My Bum Look Big In This

Feedback is said to be the food of champions because without it you don’t know what can improve and of course this could lead to the ego thinking all is sorted! Now what if it’s not really what I want to hear at the time. You know what I mean? I don’t think I have ever asked a friend “Does my bum look big in this”, but if I had I would want her (or him) to tell the truth. I certainly don’t want to be walking down the street and overhear someone saying “My God – have you seen that woman’s bum. It’s HUMUNGOUS”.

Yes, I know, I exaggerate to make the point. I don’t know if you, like me, would rather hear the truth? Sometimes it is not that helpful is it? Yes, someone maybe overweight and as a friend you do want to give some feedback, the question is does – “you are looking a bit fat today”, really do any good? And what if they HAVEN’T asked for feedback.

I get feedback all the time, I get it from my mentors, my clients and my friends and I genuinely believe it helps me to develop, grow and improve, to which I am grateful.

I can remember a time when I got some feedback, which did upset me. The reason it upset me was not that the feedback was ‘criticism’, it was that I heard it from a third party. Don’t you hate that. ‘Someone thinks you spent too much time doing XYZ and they were a bit fed up about it”. How does that help me? I didn’t know who the ‘someone’ was and I therefore didn’t have the opportunity to talk to that person/people about what was said, the context and the meaning.

And that means the feedback can only be taken in a hurtful way. Also what were the specifics around the situation, I mean how could I improve if I didn’t really know who, what, where, why and when?? I felt like the puppy that was getting told off for weeing on the carpet 2 days after the event, no idea where or why the comments were coming from. This sent me into what could have been seen as a “which hunt mode” not to find the person to blame or attack, in fact the opposite I need the pieces of the jigsaw, so I could complete the picture.

It turned out that the “messenger” was actually the person who had wanted to say something at the time and didn’t know how to and so how shall I say, they made a “creative” version of the truth by saying “others” had been commenting…this of course then led to a bigger scenario in my head of “ALL” other people had been saying and I felt rejected. The great news is that once I had all the pieces I felt calmer and could actually see their point of view.

So how many times do we either fail to give people truthful feedback for fear of hurting their feelings? And is that really the best thing we can do for them? If we have a friend who has a bad BO problem, and we don’t say anything for fear of hurting their feelings – are we really doing them a service or would it be better to be brave and give the feedback?

Equally, how many times have we given feedback to get our head bitten off by someone defending their behaviour, which then puts us off speaking up the next time?

Well, the reason that either of these scenarios happen is that we have probably never been taught how and when to give someone feedback which may be difficult. As a boss, giving feedback is part of the role and perhaps because you are the boss, your people will take it (and if they don’t they won’t speak up about it). But as a colleague or a friend, how and when should you give feedback?

Here’s my tips on it:

1) SAY to yourself, does the person need to know this and will it help them?

2) SEPARATE – Get the person on their own (as close to the occurrence as possible)

3) Tell them “I have some feedback that I would like to SHARE with you is that ok?”

4) Start with their STRENGTHS, what is good about what they do

5) Be SPECIFIC with the details of the action/situation

6) Offer SUPPORT

A friend of mine worked for a large corporate sales organisation. She was a fantastic salesperson: won awards for it and yet she kept being overlooked for promotion to management. She could not understand it. She had the best results and great customer feedback. People kept joining the company (after her) and being promoted, before her (WTF ..has that ever happened to you?). And it was starting to get her down.

She was actually thinking about leaving. And then something happened that changed her life.

Her boss went off sick. She had a temporary manager, someone very experienced in the business but from a different geographical area. On the first day they spent together, at lunchtime they went for lunch and my friend was having a bit of a moan about her situation thinking the new manager was unaware of the details.

The manager looked at my friend and asked, “Do you really want to know why that has happened”, “Yes of course I do” replied my friend. “OK” said the manager “Here’s the thing, you are clearly fantastic at sales, and your contribution is recognised, valued and talked about. You will always have a job in sales for this company. However, you are seen as sometimes a bit aggressive and they just don’t see you in the managers role.”

“What do you mean aggressive? I’m not fucking aggressive (lol). That’s ridiculous. Yes, I am passionate and that is because I CARE, I want things to be better”. The manager replied, “I can really see that, and I am not telling you this to upset you. I am telling you because I can see that you really want to know, and if you want to progress you NEED to know. You know, if you want to be seen as a manager you need to ‘act as if’. Show them that you are the person they need to see. “

Well my friend was a bit upset, but the thing that upset her most was that no-one, not ONE of her previous 4 managers – had told her this. She felt like she had wasted the past 2 years. And although it felt uncomfortable to hear, it kind of made sense.

“The one thing I don’t understand,” she said, “is WHY no-one has said this to me before? I have been working my socks off for the last 2 years putting more and more hours in and bringing in better and better results to put myself in that position, meanwhile watching new people with nowhere near my results, getting promoted. And no-one thought enough of me to tell me?”, my friend said angrily.

The manager replied “I understand and I think it’s been unfair for you, but I understand it. It is not because they don’t value you. It is the opposite. They really, really value you, and they didn’t want to upset you in case you left, and they may have been a bit afraid of your reaction. But that wasn’t fair, because how can you change if you don’t know what you need to change? Listen, you are fantastic, and I know that if you can just channel that passion into finding solutions instead of pointing out the problems, you will be up for the next managers position”.

And she was right. My friend, after some reflection, decided that her new manager was right and she worked with her to raise her profile in a positive manner. 6 months later she was promoted. True story.

This feedback followed The Simple Steps to Successful Feedback – SAY, SEPARATE, SHARE, STRENGTHS, SPECIFIC & SUPPORT. The results a win/win all round.

So, when your friend asks you “Does my bum look big in this” and it does, then think about whether they need to know that. Maybe she doesn’t because she is going to buy the damn trousers anyway and why make her feel bad?

On the other hand, if there is something that is preventing your friend or colleague from achieving something they want to achieve, and you know that if they could just change something about their behaviour, they would master it, then it is really your role as a friend to tell them. But remember to tell them in a way that highlights their strengths and gives constructive suggestion as to how or what to change, and isn’t just ‘having a go’.

Giving constructive feedback might feel uncomfortable, but ultimately your friend or your employee, will get what they want, and they will be forever grateful that you had the balls to tell them.

If you have trouble having ‘difficult’ conversations with your staff, your family or your colleagues, drop me an email and we can schedule a call to see what might be blocking you from speaking up.

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