Tapdancing around feedback

Johanna has a post about feedback on her blog...based on a feedback practice from our recent Managing One-on-One workshop.

In her post, a feedback giver hints and talks all around the situation, rather than respectfully but directly describing the situation and the impact.

Using hints and indirection is common feedback error. Feedback givers fall into the trap of trying to “soften the blow” — and end up confusing the feedback receiver.

What happens next is even sadder.

The hinter gets mad at the hintee for “not getting it.” The hintee delivers another hint, this time with an edge. The hintee feels more confused, and wonders why the hintee is upset with him/her.

Finally, the hinter gives up hinting and delivers a blast, while blaming the other person for “forcing me to be mean.”

It’s kinder to be direct. Indirection only saves the hinter from the short-term discomfort of an awkward conversation.