Feedback and a courageous conversation

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Entrepreneurs, executives or managers who can repeatedly behave like dictators will sooner or later be confronted with the fact that they will find it increasingly difficult to empathize with a different person or with different ideas than they themselves have. They also create fearful and often yes nodding people around them who have given up to give feedback. While feedback can accelerate growth in functioning and being. This is a missed opportunity for the person and the company.

Feedback and a courageous conversation

Feedback is the accelerator of growth

As children, we learn a lot and very quickly from our mistakes. To learn to walk you have to fall and often so. The more often you fall, the sooner you know how to go step by step to the next phase. Learning to run. And if you flip that cup of lemonade, you won't have any lemonade anymore, so we learn to handle the cup. Without feedback, we don't learn as fast as we could. If we - through our own behavior - completely diminish the amount of feedback we receive, there is a danger that we will actually stop learning. We can get into an imaginary isolation where we start to believe that we already know everything better than anyone else and ignore all the signals from our surroundings.

If we don't grow, we stand still

Without feedback, it's hard to grow and if we don't grow, we'll stand still. Every entrepreneur, board member and manager understands that in a world with so much technological progress that goes fast, learning is the most important asset of a company. If you continue to do what you did 5 years ago, your company is ready for the abyss.

We need to keep up with the time we live in.

We see it happening all around us more often than ever before. Disruptive enterprises that learn faster than the established order are emerging like mushrooms. Uber, Tesla, Whatsapp, Amazon and so on. The founders, executives and managers have the gift of learning to see trends, to master the matter and to turn it into action. They listen to the feedback from the market and the feedback from their environment.

It is a gift to give feedback

Feedback are gifts that you give someone to learn and it is your job to hand out those gifts as much and as often as possible. Remember that the entrepreneurs, executives and managers who can act as dictators, need your feedback the most. We tend to dislike people who don't listen to feedback and that's why we sometimes think they don't deserve our feedback. From a social point of view, you could argue that this is a selfish point of view. After all, if someone has forgotten to embrace feedback, will you stop giving them feedback? While people who do get enough feedback will get a little bit more from you.

Feedback can be confrontational for the giver

Some people avoid any kind of confrontation. If they take the effort to give feedback, they prefer to shout from a distance what's on their heart and quickly walk on. That will relieve them and they will give the responsibility for their feedback to the receiver. This is usually the easiest, but least effective way. It's like throwing a present through the open door and hoping it won't break during the fall. Giving feedback is therefore partly a matter of daring to go into confrontation and saying much more than just what you think and feel.

Giving and connecting feedback

Giving feedback in a confrontational way is not the same as having a courageous conversation. In a courageous conversation, the art is to make a connection, while in a confrontation there is a one-sided attack that usually leads to - temporary - termination of contact. Giving feedback that is connective is making contact and sharing insights within the dialogue on the basis of both sides of the argument. Even though it seems that this always requires two people, in practice it is usually enough if the person giving the feedback makes a connection.

What do you do if someone does not want feedback or a connection?

It can happen that someone - like a dictator - doesn't want any feedback at all. Certainly not from you. If the person does not accept a connection from your side, it can be very difficult to start a brave conversation. In that case, ask yourself what you would do if you wanted to give this person a gift that would be rejected in advance. Won't you buy any presents anymore or are you trying to find a way to address the next gift?

Self-interest feedback is usually counterproductive

Where things can go wrong is that we often want to give feedback in our own interests. It's not about the learning curve of the other person. It's about the other person having to learn something so that you will be better off or have less trouble with something. Complaining less often from the other person causes you less stress. Constructive feedback instead of criticism from the other person gives you more motivation. This is a type of feedback loop. The feedback you give in such cases is actually about yourself. Real feedback in a brave conversation is about selfless feedback to make the other person learn more or faster.

Feedback does not always have to be made positive

If a person is more interested in the style of how the feedback is delivered than in the content, it says more about the communication and listening skills of the recipient than about the person giving the feedback. Feedback does not always have to be constructive and positive. Learning to fall as a child sometimes hurt and as a recipient of the feedback we have to learn to live with that in order to grow. The only thing you need to have a courageous conversation in which you give feedback is connection. If there is a connection, then being brave becomes a state of vulnerability. Exactly what is needed to give and receive feedback.

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