It’s one of the biggest pieces that will make or break us as we try to become a great company, and I only recently realized it.

We’ve been back and forth a number of times about the topic of feedback, and it’s an area where we still have a lot of work to do to get right.

People often say, “You have this value of positivity and no complaining, and you also have a value of clarity and sharing things early. How that could those work together when it comes to giving feedback?”

It’s not just those outside of Buffer, either. We’ve heard from Buffer teammates, too, who wonder:

  • Should I give feedback?
  • Am I criticizing someone when I do?
  • Am I just complaining?

I’d love to explore what I’ve discovered about why feedback is not only needed but a true act of kindness, and to share with you some of the methods I’ve learned so far for giving and receiving feedback.

Lesson 1: Understanding why humans fundamentally need feedback

In theory, we might think a world without feedback would be great.  No one would ever say anything to us and we could do what we wanedt to do!

But in reality, a lack of feedback can be scary because we don’t know where we stand.

I learned a lot on this from a particularly fascinating passage in Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations:

“Psychologists have come across an interesting phenomenon: a person put in a sensory-deprivation room after only a short amount of time reports experiencing visual hallucinations, paranoia, and a depressed mood. Put simply, without outside stimulus, we go mad.

I believe something very similar happens when we are deprived of feedback related to our work. Our egos may be wary of feedback, but we are relational beings that thrive on honest feedback. I’ve seen organizations where no feedback is ever exchanged ‘go mad’ because of it. People judge others behind their backs, only to wonder nervously what others might be saying when they have their backs turned. In places like these, every word, every silence, every raised eyebrow, is scrutinized for unspoken judgments.”

Lesson 2: Learning to see feedback as a kindness

There’s an illustration from Gaping Void that gets passed around Buffer’s virtual office quite a bit:

feedback as kindness

I love this because I truly believe feedback is kindness, feedback is compassion.

The way I’ve start to coach people on giving feedback is to focus on the idea that you are doing this person a favor by helping them to be successful.

Giving feedback is always going to create friction, no matter how you look at it—it’s not easy for a person with a point of feedback to bring it up, and it’s not easy for the recipient to hear it.

So embracing that you’re here to help, embracing that mindset shift of expressing kindness, is really important.

Personally, I try to give feedback multiple times a week to people I work with, either via one-on-one chats or via Slack. Often they’re just quick items, to give people a new perspective on something.

I feel I’m doing people a disservice if I don’t have feedback for someone I speak with regularly. It’s almost a to-do item for me, that once a week I try to give some feedback.

Lesson 3: How I’ve learned to give feedback and the words I use

It’s taken me a long time to realize that giving feedback is a real skill.

You don’t just pick it up automatically and give great feedback where you’re comfortable, that person’s comfortable, everyone’s growing.

As a result, I’ve started to spend more time on coaching around feedback, doing things like encouraging others to share feedback, talking through how I might do it, discussing how to phrase things well, encouraging them to not let even small things linger, thinking on the right mindset to have.

Generally, I like to jump straight in when I have a point of feedback. (Truthfully, this is not always the best approach; it can feel a bit harsh or abrupt at times.)

The mindset I want to get into when giving someone feedback is that I’m truly missing a lot of context to make a judgement call one way or another. And it’s the fine balance between admitting that to ourselves and at the same time not letting it paralyze us to speak up and share what is nonetheless on our minds, even without having that full context. In order to mentally prepare myself for feedback discussions, reminding myself of my biases and assumptions is really helpful. On top of that making those assumptions and biases explicit even to the other person can be very helpful to their understanding too. Because of that, in the past I’ve found myself saying things like:

  • “I’m sure I’m making a lot of assumptions…”
  • “I know I don’t have the full context here…”
  • “Something that’s on my mind…”
  • “One of the things I want to help with is…”

These types of phrases help me admit that I may be wrong with what I’m about to say, yet still allow me to share so I can get it out in the open.

Here’s a quick video on some of my thoughts around giving feedback:

Generally, I try to not “package” my feedback. It can become disingenuous and also leading: You’ll begin to know the feedback is coming.

What I do like about the “compliment sandwich” method of giving feedback is the idea of giving the feedback and then sharing something that person is doing well, also.

When you receive feedback, it can sometimes feel like you’re not doing anything right. I like to end with the fact that it’s not about you; it’s just something that happened, and I know a lot of things you’re doing a great job with.

feedback phrases

It’s also key that we don’t say “You’ve done something wrong.” We give feedback on the behavior, not the person themselves.

If someone hasn’t had a productive week, it doesn’t mean they’re not a productive person. It means they haven’t had a productive week.

None of us are doing a 100% good job at all of this right now. I know I can still give off the impression of, “He’s on my back, he doesn’t like me.”

But if it’s given in a good way, feedback can feel like, “This person is rooting for me.”

Whenever I can trigger that feeling, I feel like I’ve truly succeeded. 

Lesson 4: Most culture feedback is about giving people permission

Feedback is happening a lot at Buffer—maybe more than people might realize—and I think it could happen a lot more still.

The two most common areas where someone might receive feedback at Buffer tend to be culture and role.

The most important cultural elements we tend to give feedback on involve the value of positivity or no complaining.

There are things (like the weather, travel, Comcast) that we’ve almost been conditioned to habitually complain about.

Joel and I recognized this habit early on and encouraged one another to improve on it, so so we do quite a bit of work to encourage teammates to think about gratitude, rephrase their thoughts, or do whatever they can do to try not to create negativity if possible.

This is not to say that there aren’t days where you’re going though a tough time. But in many moments, you have a choice.

Written language in particular is a big element we tend to give feedback on.

In a “regular” office environment, it might be fine or even encouraged to be more transactional with your messages.

But because Buffer is a remote team, written communication is the main way we speak. We need to add a lot of emotional layers to the messages we send in order to create the kind of environment we want to work in.

So we encourage making your messages more alive, with elements like emoji, exclamation points, or just phrasing things in such a way that we can all feel fulfilled even when we’re not all in a room together.

This could seem somewhat absurd to even talk about, and often it’s not so much a point of feedback as it is a point of permission.

If you’re coming from, say, an agency background where you’ve always had to be professional in your communication, it’s helpful to know that things are different here.

We don’t want you to check certain pieces of yourself at the door, like your goofiness, your funny lines, your favorite GIFs—they all have a place here.  As humans at Buffer, that’s how we get life out of our communication.

All of this has nothing to do with your work’s quality, but it has everything to do with the environment we create at work.

Lesson 5: Giving role feedback (We’ve been failing here)

On the role side, there are some things that we’re not quite so good at yet.

In the past, we didn’t always fully set down what we expected of people and instead we had these implicit expectations.

So the person would say, “Oh, I didn’t know that was part of what I was supposed to do at Buffer!”

That didn’t create a great experience in some instances, and we did people a bit of a disservice.

We have some challenges here, and we want to do better.

As we’ve been experimenting with OKRs, I think we’re now getting to a point where we have more measurable, tangible goals for people across the whole company, so it will be easier to help people understand what’s expected and meet their goals.

We’ll approach feedback here with our same cultural values of open-mindedness and being aware of the possibility of being wrong, but also not shying away from those questions of skill and productivity and quality of work.

Even when we don’t hit our goals, it’s not always because we weren’t productive or something is the matter. But if that’s the case, it will be easier to expose what’s going on so we can work on those challenges.

Lesson 6: Insights on how we try to receive feedback

I’d say I receive feedback one or two times a week, mostly from Joel, Carolyn and Sunil. Anyone on the team is encouraged to give me feedback, but I know it can be harder because of my role in the company. That’s something we can work on.

The way I try to receive feedback personally is to do 3 specific things:

  • Be accepting of the feedback
  • Find something in it to agree with
  • Determine how it can help me in the future

keys of receiving feedback

The first step is to be accepting and inviting of whatever it is someone shares with you, whether they’re right or wrong.

If someone is not accepting or inviting to feedback, you train the person who’s giving you feedback that it’s not easy to give feedback to you. And over time, you will get less and less of it.

After you’ve let the person speak, finding ground for agreement is really important. Almost every time you get feedback, you’ll be able to find some point, however small, to agree with—even if there’s something they missed, even if they don’t have the whole context.

The third element is to is figure out how to use this information to move you forward. Often we think of feedback as something where we’ve messed up and failed, and we need to go back and fix it and apologize.

Sometimes there’s room to go back and improve, but often you won’t get the most learning from the past.

Usually it’s about applying it to the future; tweaking and improving and growing so you become that better person over time.

Lesson 7: The toughest feedback I’ve ever received

Feedback is never easy, and it shouldn’t be—the tension reminds us to treat it with care.

It takes something out of me to receive it, and it takes something of the person to give it.

Courtney asked me a really great question about the toughest feedback I’ve ever received, and it was an interesting one to think on. This video focuses on that experience:

Embracing feedback as the core building block to scale Buffer

Feedback is still somewhat of a scary word, but it doesn’t necessarily always have to feel like, “I messed up.”

I’ve found that the people who want to grow really crave feedback.

I’d say the most limiting factor at Buffer right now is not giving feedback; it’s actually coaching people to give feedback to others as the company is growing.

I’m learning quickly that it’s one of the most important processes there is.

Feedback is how we scale as a company; it’s how we make sure we keep helping each other.

New people are coming in, and they need help and guidance. If the next person who joins doesn’t get feedback because the person they work closest with doesn’t have those skills, then that’s where we stop growing our culture.

How do you work on giving and receiving feedback? How can we work smarter at creating a culture of teammates who crave feedback?

I’m keen to hear all your thoughts in the comments!

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Written by Leo Widrich

Co-founder and COO at Buffer. I enjoy writing about Buffer’s lessons learnt, social media tips and updates to Buffer. For some more personal posts, check out leostartsup.

  • Hi Leo! Wonderful post about feedback. I love your insight on role feedback, a lot of companies fall short here so Buffer is not alone!

    We recently explored the relationship between creative and client feedback — which is just as important as internal feedback. http://www.titanwebmarketingsolutions.com/design-feedback-without-crushing-creativity/

    Poorly delivered design feedback has the ability to not only crush someone’s spirits, but also their creativity. As you know, creativity is what this industry thrives on.

    I plan to share this article with my team and start a conversation about our internal feedback processes!

    • Shantelle McDonald

      Oh, I love that! “Poorly delivered design feedback has the ability to not only crush someone’s spirits, but also their creativity.” Thanks for sharing!

  • Well done Leo!

  • felicia.cristofaro

    Leo,

    You bring up a very interesting topic. I definitely agree that it’s human nature to crave feedback; we need to know where we stand. Else wise, how will we know where to improve?

    I think for me the best thing to remember with feedback is do the right thing. If your input will be beneficial to the receiver, and will help them in some way, then it’s right to share that information with them. If you realize that your opinion is in fact a judgment or insult, it will do more harm than good. Not the right thing to do. I think that when you’re providing feedback, letting the individual know that their feelings are valid is extremely important.

    I love that Buffer truly embraces bringing your whole self to work. I’m a huge fan of puns (especially animal puns!), but unfortunately my current work environment doesn’t quite tolerate that kind of pandamonium. Thanks for sharing!

  • It’s so funny that you published this now. Just yesterday I was thinking of starting a discussion in the Buffer Slack about how to give feedback and when it is appropriate to do so. Love your insights. :)
    Any ideas on how to give feedback when you’re not in a working relationship yet? Example: a new founder talks about their business and you have a feeling you could help them (but they don’t ask for it).

  • Carolina Rosabal

    Great post, Leo! Thanks for the tips.

    Giving feedback can sometimes be a selfish practice, even if that’s not the intention. We usually think how we could’ve done something differently, but sometimes we fail to get in the other person’s shoes. It should be a motivational practice, not a negative one.

    When I want to give feedback to someone who didn’t ask for it, first I ask if it’s okay to share some thoughts. If he/she agrees, I start by bringing up the positive things and then I mention the areas of opportunity. I try to avoid using words like mistake or fail because it could hurt the other person’s feelings and then they wouldn’t take it as feedback but as criticism, which is not the point.

    I also think we should give the feedback we would like to receive. If we start thinking of it like acts of love and kindness, just like you mention, then it might start spreading until we get love back in the shape of feedback :)

    I find your advice very useful, thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Stoned Pony1

    Leo,
    I am an outsider reading your message and do see some flaws if you don’t mine but over all you are spot on. People must remember that humans can and will have a bad day and sometimes write and say things they wish they could redo.

    I’ve managed Aviation companies and learned a long time ago if you see something you think is wrong do not chew out the person there in charge but ask them to come by and see you when they have time. This way you do not let them lose face with their coworkers and you show that you are open to what they may say to you. In your office you can ask about what you saw and why it was did the way it was. You never know they may have a better way of doing what you think you know how to do. If it was not, then you can say I want it did this way please as they may have not know how you wanted the job did.

    One of the best things I ever learned working was to tell people you did not know their name but knew their face is hello in the morning. This has two sides to it and is a win for both parties. You feel better and you start your day at work with a smile and they maybe having a bad day and by just saying hello you may have made their day as well.

    You see someone working hard thank them for a job well done. Ask like you have said, for feedback from your people. You can learn a lot listening to their complaints, their wisdom, and their wellbeing.

    Feedback can hurt as well, it is how you address the words that you use and how that persons day is going or has gone. There lays the trick to know your people and how to talk to people. Humans are a worrying class of what did I do wrong and they then miss the massage you are trying to convey to them. No one wants to hear you made a mistake or this is all wrong. Ask them how they think they are doing and you will hear good or great.

    When I was 12, I was let go by and old man who till this day I respect on how he let me go. He said, I don’t know how we are going to get along without you but starting next week we will see.

  • Shantelle McDonald

    Wow! This is a really insightful post! It ties in well with yesterday’s post from Neil de la Rouviere about strengthening relationships. I feel that a deep relationship, built on trust and respect, can support healthy feedback where the giver is kind and the receiver is open minded. In a work relationship, that can continue strengthening trust and lead to an environment where people don’t have to be fearful and can, in turn, give healthy feedback to others. When feedback isn’t about criticism or judgement, but investing in the success of another, it can revolutionize relationships. Trust allows for feedback, feedback ignites growth, growth yields confidence and success, and confidence and success reinforce trust. And that, I believe, is where synergy is most powerfully present.

    You bring up a fantastic point that the method of delivering feedback needs to be taught. In my experience, it definitely is a new skill to a lot of people. Do you have any ideas on how you would go about developing that skill with your team?

  • Silly Sally

    Great central ideas on feedback, Leo!

    My question is: if someone has provided feedback but actually has gotten the central premise less than 100% right, do you follow the same lessons when suggesting corrections to them?

    For example, say that while trying to get to know someone you speak about a common subject like the weather in a way that is is construed as complaining, but was intended to build a connection on common ground. The complaining feedback is provided to you.

    My struggle is that, especially when talking about intent, it’s not always easy to suggest your intention without appearing defensive or (even worse) close-minded to constructive criticism. Is this just a matter of choosing the words correctly?

  • Sylvia

    Leo, I’ve been curious about how the Buffer team balances transparency, speaking up early, and giving feedback especially because it’s an area of my life that I’m trying to grow in myself! Thanks for sharing your mindset behind giving and receiving feedback and some specific ways, including ways to preface the conversation to set the tone (I like “One of the things I want to help with is…). Kudos for always furthering the conversation and aiming for constant improvement and growth!

  • Kat Zien

    Great post Leo! For me it was one of the toughest things to learn over time, to see feedback as a favour rather than criticism. But I love the outcome once you change your mindset to that :-) I also liked that we (used to?) call feedback ‘feedforward’ – it has it in the name that it’s to help you grow and be better going forward! Which goes back to your point about applying it to the future rather than just focusing on the past :-) awesome post and thanks for great beach reading material! :D :D

    • Khor

      Love the word ‘feedfoward’!

  • Khor

    I think, sometimes besides giving feedback, getting the person to think/self-reflect about an issue by asking a question may help?

    I like Leo’s video explaining how he’s attuned to certain things being ‘right’, e.g., rushing for a deadline. If I had to give feedback to Leo, maybe I would try subtly hint at the diverse way people may work (which is the message I want to get across) by asking “Hey Leo, do you think our employees treasure how well we plan our product release? In the case of urgent fixes is there a good way we can preserve that?”

  • David Bolt

    Great post, thanks for sharing Leo! Giving feedback is certainly an art form and requires good working relationships in order to be effective. If you don’t mind a touch of feedback from what you shared, I’m not a huge fan of the “compliment sandwich” for one main reason: the power of the constructive feedback may be lost or muddled by being sandwiched between two positives. If I’m looking for change from someone that I care about, then I want to be sure the message is clear. I’ve found that sharing the facts, the impact, and my thoughts on course correction in a respectful and straightforward way has worked very well for my teams over the years. On another note, I’ll definitely be sharing this with my team along with that pic from the gaping void. Fantastic stuff, thanks again!

    • Khor

      About the ‘compliment sandwich’, that makes two of us!

  • Gary Willmott

    Hey Leo, we also had a hard time with the feedback process and we’re also a big fan of OKRs.

    Here is a few of our pain points:
    1) Feedback gets really time consuming, especially for leaders.
    2) Feedback can come across fairly biased.
    3) If feedback isn’t done often, it often get’s too late to address issues.

    This problem became such a pain that we ended up creating our own software to help make this process simpler, faster and easier for everyone. Based on requests from industry friends, we released it to the public last year.

    Have a squizz let me know your thoughts.
    Visit Hi5

    Hit me up if you have any questions.
    @garywillmott

  • Florian Schild

    Hi Leo, thanks a lot for the post of feedback! It is such an important topic, especially since it is an issue that is often overlooked in companies that are growing. At least that is my feeling.

    I can really relate well to what you describe. For me it is similar. When I started here last year we had a really tough project with a very demanding timeline. So naturally as product owner I was kind of pushy. Later on this was given to me as an aspect on which I could improve and it kind of hit me very hard at the first moment. In my mind being pushy was never really a bad thing, it was more a way of getting things done. It took me a little while to dissect the finer parts about this and change my attitude in stressful times.

    However, as others have already mentioned I am not a fan of the sandwich method or coating feedback in sugar. I think this really depends of the type of personality each person has. For me, the best feedback is direct and honest (without being disrespectful or anything like that). So, constructive feedback works for me. If something was bad, say it straightforward. Don’t beat around the bush.

    Another point which I really like about your post is that feedback should be an inherent component of every company culture. It needs to be embedded in the company and its values. I experienced that often the most valuable feedback results from normal, informal conversations around work.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

  • Please provide transcripts of the video audio, at least make sure Youtube has the correct words for captions.
    https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734796

    • Oh, thank you so much for the nudge here, Shaila! We are super new to editing videos for YouTube; this is very helpful!

  • Great points! Feedback is very necessary to thrive and grow as an employee, and giving feedback well is a great skill to develop.

    One thing I consider in feedback situations is the different cultures I and the other person may come from. That could mean region of the country to even different countries to starting off in different industries. How we present ourselves and information can be affected by the environs that formed our early experiences. Self-presentation from our manner to our words are affected by our backgrounds, and it’s good to be conscious of that when trying to effectively communicate with others and understanding or conveying the overall message.

    I’m going to pass on the OKR idea to my supervisor. . .

  • @LeoWid @courtneyseiter:disqus In general, we are taught many things in school but not communication skills, especially constructive feedback. It’s a skill we generally need to learn once in the workplace and usually then, it’s not even properly taught. So sometimes it’s the blind leading the blind, so to speak. I agree 100% with Leo that written communication can get fuzzy and OMG I’ve misinterpreted moods of emails or texts because (somewhere I read) that 90% of communication is non-verbal. So how do you get that 90% in written messages? You don’t. I love the suggestions of emojis to clarify mood. As silly as it sounds, the emojis take care of some of the non-verbal. I recently read a statement in a really good book called “Boundaries” which said, “It’s O.K. to hurt someone if you’re not harming them.” Meaning, by giving feedback, it may “hurt” a little but your intention is to help the other grow, and the other is hopefully helping you to grow. I loved that. Because as an empathetic person, I was always afraid of hurting someone, so I would stay quiet. But now I know, it’s O.K. if they’re hurting temporarily if there’s no harm and they have room to grow. :)

  • Michael Jenkins

    Great article. Feedback is something very important in our lives. We all crave it. How it is presented though has always been the trick. This is something I believe that no one is taught correctly.

    Whether it is positive or negative feedback, the presentation is the real art. Nobody wants to hear negative feedback, however, if presented correctly, it could actually turn positive and into a learning opportunity for both parties.

    The same goes for the positive feedback. If presented incorrectly, it could defeat the whole purpose and not have the same impact.

    Like I said it is a real art to deliver feedback. It is necessary to deliver it, it just needs to be approached with care in my opinion.

    Leo, from what I have read Buffer seems to have a great strategy planned out for the company and will be very successful in what they aim to achieve.

  • Yet another great article Leo!

    One area that didn’t super resonate with me was in what to say to lead into feedback. I feel they could potentially put someone’s back up before even getting to the constructive suggestions intended to help. Though I do agree that some form of lead-in can be helpful and necessary… I’m going to ponder this part some more.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out myself, but I wonder if asking questions might produce a more desirable outcome (depending on the situation)? I feel that it has the potential to 1) get more involvement and input from the other person; 2) let them know that there’s some room for improvement without telling them they did something wrong; 3) offer support while letting the other person have a say in what form that support takes. For example, questions like “Are there areas that you feel you could improve in?” or “Do you have any suggestions on how XYZ couple be improved?” or “Are there any ways that we could help you to strengthen ABC?”

    I don’t get any feedback in my current job and you’re right, as someone who wants to grow, not getting the feedback is really frustrating – it’s actually one of the reasons that I’m soon leaving the position.

    As for creative feedback, Anne is incredibly correct and it’s such an important point. I recently provided feedback to a fellow author on a book trailer she had created. I was really nervous about providing the feedback, but I also really wanted to help her. Below is the comment I put on her post requesting feedback and I’m thrilled to say that she was super appreciative and warmly accepted the feedback. Thought I’d share it for anyone here who might be interested in reading it:

    “I really struggled about whether to provide feedback from the angle of suggested improvements or not. For a few reasons 1) I know first hand the amount of hard work and effort that goes into creating a trailer; 2) I’m no expert on creating effective trailers; 3) my own trailers are definitely lacking.

    So at first I critiqued this trailer only for myself, basically to get me thinking about how my own could be improved.

    After sitting on it for a while, I realised that this is information I would genuinely appreciate someone giving me about my own trailers and I would want others to benefit from that insight as well.

    First off, please understand that these are purely suggestions based on questions I asked myself before, during and after watching the trailer – by putting myself in the shoes of a reader who knows nothing about the book or the author.

    The suggestions are not criticism at all.

    I can absolutely tell that a ton of thought and hard work has gone into creating this trailer and for that alone I commend you, it puts you leaps and bounds ahead of scores of authors and is not something to cast aside or look lightly on. It’s a huge accomplishment.

    With that clarified, these were some points and thoughts that struck me as I watched and rewatched the video (about 4 or 5 times) on my phone. I recorded these thoughts several hours later after watching the video.

    * I don’t recall a strong sense of what the book is about or what genre it is

    * While artistic, it’s hard to tell what some of the images are or mean

    * The cover image is fuzzy and hard to read

    * Some of the text isn’t on screen long enough to read/digest

    * The title of the book isn’t prominent

    * Several hours later, I can’t recall where to find the book

    * I liked the quotes included

    These are additional notes taken the next day while watching it on my computer and pausing the video to take notes:

    * The image with the cover right before the author pic goes away too fast

    * The slide after the author pic, I couldn’t tell what the name “Daith Tocc” said on my phone but can on the computer

    * The cover slide at the end is still a bit short and the title is too close to the edge of the screen

    * There’s a lot going on with movement and it’s difficult to know where to focus

    * Where the words are along the bottom they almost get missed (actually some did get missed on the first couple of views)

    * On the computer the duration of most of the text seemed ok, when it felt too quick on my phone

    * There wasn’t anything in the imagery that really stuck with me

    From a purely marketing perspective, there’s nothing that tells the reader what they get out of it. There’s no emotional tie-in for them to relate to.

    I’m sorry if you didn’t want this level critique and I have no problem if you’d prefer this comment to be deleted. But I will say that it was an incredible exercise for my own trailers because I have a much better understanding of what doesn’t work in mine. Like I said, I am NOT an expert, these are purely observations as an audience and I genuinely hope they help everyone as we all move forward and grow. xx”

  • LeeAndra Fouts

    Thanks for the suggestions here.

    I don’t mind feedback but I have found in the past that my ‘wordiness’ can come across as overwhelming to others who are not quite as wordy. While I’m choosing specific words to exactly convey what I mean, the person on the other end finds my vocabulary confusing or even condescending because they do not speak or think in that way. I have had more success in coming into the conversation and tailoring my words, tone, etc. to that specific person. If I know they have a specific hobby or interest, for instance, I might bring that into the conversation, and this seems to relax them or at least open them up to what I am saying.

    I’m still saying what I want to say but by taking the time to say it ‘their way,’ people have been much more interested in what I want to say.

  • Very good post, thanks. I especially liked how you justify giving feedback despite missing a lot of the context. Also, sometimes people might think: “Who am I to tell this colleague how to do stuff? After all, I haven’t been around here that long.”

    About your question: “How can we work smarter at creating a culture of teammates who crave feedback?” I wrote something about spreading skills like giving feedback in your organization: http://tombartel.de/2016/01/05/spreading-people-management-skills/ It comes with a practical example, maybe somebody finds it helpful.

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