How to give feedback to someone who doesn’t want it

It’s important to give feedback to team members. But what should you do when an employee gets defensive? Leaders in these situations may want to take a break from giving performance-related feedback and try giving feedback based more closely on how the employee receives it. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Get curious. You can’t assume that the feedback-receiver sees his/her behaviour in the same way that you do. Acknowledge that you’re expressing an opinion and ask to hear the other person’s, too.
  2. Use neutral language. Try to avoid words that carry negative connotations and place blame.
  3. Ask for feedback yourself.  Be brave enough to ask, “How am I contributing to this problem?” and then model how to receive the feedback.
  4. Secure a commitment. Make a specific request for a behaviour change, be open to counter-offers, and come to an agreement on the goal.

The above leadership tip...
was sent in response to a question from a participant on our acclaimed 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme and adapted from Adapted from When Your Employee Doesn’t Take Feedback by Deborah Grayson Riegel. To find out how you, your team or your organisation can benefit, please get in contact and we'll be pleased to send you a brochure.