Submitted by firebelly on
I'm curious about how folks handle their emotions before they give negative feedback. MT suggest that we provide it neutrally without anger in our voice but I actually FEEL angry when something isn't provided to me on time or I have to ask for the umpteenth time. Is there a little exercise I can do to dispel my feelings of anger before I provide the feedback so that the anger doesn't come out or how do other people handle this?
Take the test, read up on EI.
Great little book.
I've read several books on Emotional Intelligence and taken courses on it but for some reason the suggestions for self-regulation aren't clicking with me and this particular issue. I'm really curious to hear specifically what skills other people use that work.
Sure, maybe it's trite, but I've always been a big believer in Hanlon's Razor in this situation:
Replace "Stupidity" with carelessness, ignorance, forgetfulness, or ordinary human frailties.
Feeling angry is something that YOU do to YOURSELF. It doesn't do anything good, and in many cases, damages the relationship. That's the beauty of the feedback model. It turns an angry conversation into a simple "course correction"
Before you give adjusting feedback, ask yourself if the direct is being malicious in the failed action. In the rare case that they are malicious, you deal with it appropriately. In the majority of cases where they just messed up you try to adjust their future course. No big deal.
And think of it this way, suppose your boss is "old school" and bottles up thoughts such as "I've told Firebelly time and time again to not get angry over simple stuff, I need to do something drastic" Don't you wish he would rather just say:
If in your mind, you don't like the person, you'll find ways to justify it.
Change your opinion from negative to neutral/curiosity/how they are useful.
Anger empowers the other side
"When you feel angry, demonstrating your anger, empowers the other side." I read that once and it just clicked with me. It empowers the other side because they know they have control over the way you feel.
The other think that works for me is meditation, through meditation I have learned to have control over my thoughts and my feelings. You start by just observing and accepting the way your are feeling. Don´t dwell with it, just acknowledge it, accept it, and once you accept it it goes away. And the more I have done it, the quicker I have been able to get from one state to another (anger to no anger), and pretty soon, I just I didn´t feel angry anymore. And guess what? I was empowered, and the other side didn´t even dare not complying!
If you want to give it a try, there is a nice youtube video on practicing one minute meditation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8
Another thing that works too is to practice not to pass any judgement. Most people don´t make mistakes purposely. Once I have acknowledged they failed out of weakness of some sort, not lack of intention, it is easier to be more sympathetic and less upset.
Good luck! You are 80% there by just acknowledging anger is getting on your way!
Practice the feedback in
Practice the feedback in your mind for a while before the actual giving, this will give you a chance to relax prior.
Follow up with an email to re-iterate and add it to the performance reviews so that you have it documented.
Is it an issue of repetitive behavior?
From your post, it sounds like your issue is with the repetitive nature of the behavior. "something isn't provided to me on time or I have to ask for the umpteenth time" Maybe it would help to listen to the "Shot Across the Bow" post so that you know there is an end to that tunnel if the direct really, really does not change their behavior. At that point, it will hopefully seem less futile and you will view it more as "behavioral modification" than anything else.
I also thoroughly agree with Mike_Bruns...most mistakes are not due to malice. They are due to poor planning, lack of professionalism, etc. Behaviors to improve, but also behaviors that *can* be improved with good communication and feedback.
more frequent feedback?
Another view into your situation: could you give feedback more often? My reading (communication is what the listener/reader does) of your message is that you perhaps are waiting "umpteen" times and then wanting to give feedback. Could the anger result from built-up resentment of not receiving the deliverable for an extended time or repeatedly?
Firebelly: "Direct, can I give you some feedback?"
Firebelly: "When you didn't deliver <foo> at the agreed time, it put the project behind. Can you do that differently? Thanks."
then have the discussion where they agree to deliver it in an hour or tomorrow or whatever the minimum realistic time is (there's a cast for this, I can't find it right now). I'm just thinking if the feedback (positive and negative) is frequent, there's likely less anger behind it, because it's feedback on a smaller quantum of behaviour. (Physicists, ignore that last noun.)
As DRD282 says, once it goes beyond simple feedback and is a behaviour you've given feedback on three times, then it's time for a shot across the bow.
Don't Let Your Emotions Cloud Your Judgement
This thread reminds me of something I've witnessed numerous times in my career and sometimes in these forums. That is, someone allows their dislike of a particular behavior to color their judgement of that person. For example, your direct, John, continually engages in a behavior that damages your team. Let's say he hijacks your staff meetings yet refuses to acknowledge the damage he's doing. We'll call this problem A.
Then he brings to your attention another problem we'll call "B." This is a valid problem yet I have seen managers and others unable to separate A from B. Because you are upset (note that's an emotion) with John over problem A, you discount or dismiss Problem B.
I have seen some (including C-level) managers totally dismiss Problem B because of "John's" reputation. Yet, if this had been brought to their attention by someone else more well respected, the problem would have received the attention it deserved.
Be careful not to let your emotions color your judgement here. Deal with each problem separately. In some cases, working on Problem B may strengthen the relationship so that it's occasionally easier to solve Problem A.
it's not personal
it's not personal (x repeat) as many times as necessary to dissolve any thoughts towards anger..
and understand that any tension that exists is a tension between the two thoughts or ideas that are held.. not between you as individuals.
e.g the tension between your thought that the information isn't being provided to you on time, and his/her thought that.. well it's best not assume what they're thinking but can always ask if there are barriers that prevent the expectation from being met.. or maybe they didn't consider it to be as time critical as you did.