Getting uncomfortable: Feedback


Let’s talk about a culture of feedback – proper, healthy feedback. Feedback that is honest (carefully considered and thoughtful), constructive (growth mindset) and where there are opportunities for growth and development. In fact, the opposite of shame – scarcity, not enough.

Providing this kind of feedback can be massively beneficial to the receiver and can be part of the idea that people learn and transformation takes place.

The thing about feedback is that it does make us feel vulnerable or it can leaves us disengaged or, worst still, damaged. I know someone who was unsuccessful in a recent job interview and the feedback he was given made things worse. We almost need a feedback researcher to get some data as I am so aware that feedback is often pitched incorrectly, it backfires or there is no change in the person’s behaviour or work.

Because it is an act where both the giver and the receiver do feel vulnerable, there needs to be a conscious awareness of this discomfort and, as Brene Brown argues, ‘the goal is not getting comfortable with hard conversations but normalising discomfort’. It is she says uncomfortable and unpredictable and, I would add, difficult and tricky.

The big challenge for leaders is getting our heads and hearts around the fact that we need to cultivate the courage to be uncomfortable and to teach people around us to accept discomfort as part of growth. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Here’s the thing: the challenge is how to become effective at giving and receiving feedback. I am not only talking about personal but also work.

Let me get to work: distinguishing between being a cheerleader or providing applause and the art of open, effective feedback.


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