In a recent leadership team-building workshop, we practiced giving clean feedback. Later, Jane asked me during a break for a chat about how to deal with another participant who had blocked her attempt at giving feedback on a behaviour causing a lot of friction between them Ã¢â‚¬â€œ during shift handover, Mary reacted to improvement suggestions from Jane by snapping at her and ignoring the suggestion.
I asked her how she wanted to give the feedback. Like a first attempt by most of us, the message was vague, general Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and it hurt. (I checked this last piece by letting Jane imagine she were Mary for a moment and then repeating her own words back to her: she winced!) I coaxed her to describe more precisely what it was that Mary did that triggered JaneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s frustration. (This took a couple of iterations.) Then I asked how Jane felt and if she could imagine saying this to Mary. New land!
Finally, I asked her if she knew how she could make the suggestions without Mary snapping. Puzzled silence. I suggested she ask Mary directly, how Jane could make the suggestions.
The next morning Jane told me that the two of them had had a quiet word during the evening. Mary apologised for blocking the feedback. Jane delivered what she had practiced. Mary let it sink in, mentioned that JaneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reporting on her emotions helped Mary understand what was happening in their interaction and she came up with a suggestion that was acceptable to both of them.