Giving Feedback to Your Boss? Stop Using the F-Word!

Giving Feedback to Your Boss, Employee, Colleague or Friend?

What one word can ignite the Twitter kingdom (now X) with viral vitriol, end a high-profile career in a minute, and can change Wall Street’s “Buy” to “Sell”. What one word should be stricken from our vocabulary? It’s the “F-Word” – FEEDBACK.

“Can I give you some FEEDBACK?” “Here's some FEEDBACK on your presentation.”

If you want to give feedback to your boss, colleague or friend, don't call it feedback. FEEDBACK can be counter-productive and often fosters silence rather than helpful discourse. The F-Word, FEEDBACK, has unintended consequences: Defensiveness, polarization, gritting of teeth. “I’ve got some FEEDBACK for you…” too often means prepare for a whoopin’.

Tips from a Career Coach

So how can you give feedback to your boss to advance in your career or to a colleague to improve their outcomes? Tips from this career coach include using these safe alternatives to the F-Word:

    • “I’d like to share my observations”
    • “I have some thoughts for you” or
    • “There are three important points I learned today you may find helpful”.

A restaurant or hotel review on a dozen different websites delivers thousands of bytes of FEEDBACK. 78.9% of the FEEDBACK is negative (fictitious Gonska Poll). When did you last catch someone doing something right and bring it to their attention? Understandably, you expect a paid service to be satisfactory, but what about sharing positive comments of appreciation?

Take Inventory: How Much of Your Feedback is Positive?

Take the 4-hour challenge: chart the comments, ideas or FEEDBACK you share with others during half a work day. How many are positives? And how many are negatives? You may be surprised.

Silence is not the answer. No news isn’t good news. It’s no news. The absence of negative is not positive. It’s silence.

First, get their permission to hear the observations (unsolicited advice in the workplace). Second, don’t use the F-Word and expect the listener to really hear what you say. The person we hope to help with FEEDBACK may shut down immediately. Their brain may be too busy planning a defensive response to hear anything we say. You will get more results once you stop using the F-Word.

To get in touch with Executive Career Coach, Mark Gonska, use this link to schedule a 15 minute phone call, or fill out this form to tell him more about your situation.


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