Giving feedback

Giving feedback is hard. How do you convey to someone what they are doing wrong in a way that doesn’t make them feel miserable? How do you avoid misleading them into thinking they are doing it very right, when what you actually wanted to say was: you’re on a good track, good work but still not there, keep working? How do you compliment without going overboard and accidentally inviting people to rest on their laurels?

My Southern Europe background tends to drive me to deliver blunt criticisms left, right and center. My perfectionism makes it even worse. I want everything to be RIGHT, so I often can’t stop seeing the bad aspects of things. I’m a stream of “OK, but…”. I have to force myself to focus in “the good parts” before I dare saying anything. This is because I care.

And that’s the other difficult side of giving feedback: when people don’t listen to it, and just go on with their plan towards the chasm on the bottom of which failure and mediocrity freely roam.

I cringe.

I can’t let it happen. Don’t they care as much as I do? Things have to be done properly. We shouldn’t waste time, resources, health, brain power. Please listen to me, I know this isn’t going to work, I’ve gone through this many times before!, goes my internal dialogue.

They don’t listen. I despair.

I’m trying to get better at not despairing. At pretending to not care when someone messes everything up because they think they know better and want to go their own way. I know that’s the only way to learn for some people, in some cases. Failure is a way to enlightenment, sometimes.

Still, it makes me feel awful.