You’re in a conversation with your manager, who tells you that a couple of your colleagues think that you are not assertive enough and shrink from taking responsibility. It’s okay though, she’s “just being honest”.
One of your peers tell you that people find you vague and directionless. She’s just “saying it as it is”.
You’re having a discussion with someone on your project team who lets you know that you are coming across as rude and abrasive. Then she rushes off to the next meeting. It’s okay though, she’s “just telling it straight”.
Always feel like you are going crazy at work? You might be being gaslighted. Post continues.
Too often we use, “I’m just being honest” as an excuse to verbally assassinate someone. Those four words seem to give some people permission to say whatever they think. However, there are consequences to a colleague’s “helpful” comments.
Not only has the trust and respect bank been depleted but so has the ‘discretionary effort’ bank too. Whether we are friends or work colleagues, we don’t want to go the extra distance for these people anymore. They have hurt us.
When we speak, our words can harm our colleagues and we create an emotional wake, whether we like it or not.
So how do you give feedback without hurting someone?
Whether it is delivering feedback, sharing your perspective on a decision or giving an opinion on a project; when we share what we think, we need to keep in mind that it is our perspective only. It is true for us – but not the truth.
Facts are information that cannot be argued or disputed. They are dates, times, numbers, what people said (as in the actual words, not our perspective of what they said) and what people did or did not do (body language).
For instance, if you “feel wronged”, I could tell you that “you didn’t need to feel that way”. I can challenge this. If you tell me that when I asked everyone in the meeting last Tuesday for their opinion, I didn’t ask for yours – and it was true – then I cannot argue that. The facts are indisputable.
Just because we have an opinion about something doesn’t make it a fact. Even if we strongly believe it. It is our own perspective of a situation. And the things about perspectives or opinions is that they can change over time. The facts don’t. They might be true for you, but they are not the truth.
I’m not saying don’t share how you feel about something or your perspective. But if you do it without adding examples and facts then it is coming across as criticism and is unlikely to be received and owned. The content needs to be delivered with facts – not just your opinions or feelings in isolation, as these are often the damaging pieces.