Own it!

No one really loves doing it – giving tough feedback.  It’s never a pleasure if they work for you but I always think it’s particularly grim if it’s to a peer or your boss.

How on earth do you tell them that’s not the way to do it; the results aren’t good enough; the rest of the team is disgruntled?

There are all sorts of techniques you can deploy, plenty of which are really effective.

I’m a great believer in techniques; get the right one and the job gets easier.  Putting up exhibition stands, opening bottles, baking cakes.  Whatever you’re trying to do, find out the best way to do it and life gets simpler.

But to me, technique also implies some sort of manipulation. You’re in control. It’s not equal.  If you’re using a technique to get a message across to someone else then that person is nothing more than an object.  They’re not active in the communication process.

To change, and after all that’s what we’re trying to achieve, people have to be willing to participate.  They have to be active.

To create a dialogue about change start by removing the presumption you know best.  For all but a very few of us, great ideas come from multiple brains working creatively together.

Then step forward and own your experience.  Your experience is incontestable.  It’s not right.  It’s not wrong.  It’s yours.  And really importantly, there’s no blame directed at anyone.  Defences are generally not triggered; barriers don’t go up.

“That’s not the way to get results.”  This sentence says you’re wrong, I know best and you had better change.

“My experience of that approach wasn’t very positive.  When I tried that I couldn’t get it to work.”  There’s no blame in these sentence, no presumption you know best.  But perhaps most important of all there’s an openness that welcomes dialogue – the route to finding a better way of doing things.

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By Cathy Connan

I'm an integrative psychotherapist. I help people invest in their wellbeing and live the life they want.