Negative Feedback Doesn’t Have to be so… Negative

Negative Feedback Doesn’t Have to be so… Negative

I had what I thought was a great relationship with a colleague. We’ll call them Linus. Linus assigns me work and I accept or deny. It’s a great, open relationship, one most of us freelancers relish. Our relationship felt like it was built on trust and mutual respect.

Things were going quite swimmingly then took a proverbial turn. Out of nowhere we had a pretty uncomfortable meeting, where I sat listening to something that I was absolutely not guilty of (a co-worker had told management a falsehood about me). I can’t really get into specifics or Linus will know I’m talking out of school. Let’s just say it’s the antithesis of who I am as a human. And maybe a case of mistaken identity (insert should shrug emoji)?

So what happens next? Linus tells me they know it’s petty, and to “let it go”, put it behind me and move forward, think of it as history. Who can let anything go, except a balloon that slips out of your hand and floats to the sky? Especially when it’s delivered so matter of factly (is that a phrase?).

And where did my relationship with Linus go wrong? That’s what I immediately felt I should have let go. At least at the moment it happened. I felt the need to flee. But since I’m a grown up I simply said, “I’m offended”. This is either a dream or a Seinfeld episode. #nope

For all of you managers out there, please always start your negative feedback with a positive! Tell the person what they are doing right, or good at, unless they’re doing nothing right, then just step up and let them go, for crying eyes!

Instead of expecting someone to let a situation go, if they’re wrong for your team, let them go. Or, tell them what you expect from them as part of your team, and how you see them fitting in, or not, and start it off positive, k? I mean we’re all adults here, right?

By adding value to that human’s feedback loop, they won’t go negative in their head (maybe even for days). You blew it as a manager Linus. I didn’t hear what I was good at, if you even liked me or what I do right, or quite frankly, anything positive.

And then our next interaction got even more heated, in the order of taking on work that I didn’t want to do, couldn’t do, or couldn’t make time for. When you’re a contractor/freelancer, you’re supposed to be able to say no. It’s not brain surgery. So, I decided to just bite the bullet and accept said work, even though I may or may not be good enough to accept the work (still with me?).

For all that is holy managers, tell people why they matter, what you respect about them, then ask for their help. Don’t tell people why you think they suck, add in “we value you”, then leave the room. I’m still roiling. Can you tell?

What roils you in intimate human connections?

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