When Empathy Hurts Your Feedback


Empathy is the signature skill of good feedback. But it has a silent cost. Ask others whether they’d prefer to get feedback from someone who’s highly empathetic, and the answer would be a resounding yes. The ability to empathize with others is a critical leadership skill, especially when conversations turn tense. These individuals can anticipate how others are likely to think and feel, are well-equipped to express genuine care and compassion, and find ways to communicate in a constructive manner. There’s just one problem: Empathy might be derailing your leadership effectiveness. The underside of… Read More

Put on your feedback game face

With feedback, what we show matters more than what we say. You’ve crafted the right message.  You’ve carefully prepared your points. You’ve chosen an appropriate time and place to have the conversation. So how come your feedback fell flat? Good managers know how to hone their message. They make sure it’s specific, timely, fair and driven by dialogue. These are important attributes of effective feedback, but they’re only part of the equation. Savvy managers understand the invisible truth about feedback: What we show matters more than what we say. Our face is… Read More

Make your message matter

Feedback needs to deliver more than just a strong message. In case you haven’t noticed, feedback has made a comeback. What was once a system of “command and control” has shifted to a dynamic of “converse and connect.” Leaders are paying more attention to the message of feedback by holding themselves accountable to basic norms: Is it clear? Is it intentional? Does it tackle the tough issues, or simply dodge and disguise them? Feedback today is exchanged more frequently and with greater frequency than in years past. And more people, particularly individual… Read More

Prepare for difficult conversations


Bring a high-touch approach to high stakes encounters. You’re about to have a difficult conversation with your boss, colleague or loved one. Are you ready? Succeeding at high-stakes communication takes skill and savvy, but it also requires a plan of action — an intentional effort to understand what others need and how to meet and manage their expectations. With the right amount of planning and preparation, it’s possible to engage others with greater calm and control. Using some behavioral science and a bit of common sense, you can take charge of these… Read More

Feedforward: Look forward, not back

Good feedback look forward, not back. Getting others to accept our feedback can prove challenging, especially when it’s critical. Worried that their feedback may lead to hurt feelings or diminished productivity, managers resort to face-saving techniques like the “praise sandwich” that end up doing more harm than good. The result is a wobbly feedback culture built largely upon evasion, confusion, and self-delusion. This dynamic can change with a better message — and a bolder mindset. Based on my research and work with leadership teams, I’ve found that when performance conversations are powered by partnership, the landscape shifts…. Read More

Your future self

Your future self is waiting for you. What will it look like? What if you could fast forward five years from now, ten years from now – and meet your future self? What would your future self look like? Would it be happy and successful? Thriving at work? Doing well in life?  Or would your future self be discouraged? Disappointed? Missing out on all that life has to offer? If you met your future self, would you discover that the decisions you’re making right now are creating future obstacles….or opportunities? Things are… Read More

Be a first-class noticer

Don’t overlook the obvious. Have you ever faced a situation at work and wondered, “How could this have happened?” or “Why didn’t I see that coming?” You lose a bid for a project you assumed was a lock. You learn employee engagement scores are much lower than expected. You discover that your top salesperson is leaving for a competitor. Even the best of us fail to recognize the signs that are hiding in plain sight. It could be the result of willful blindness. Or a lack of self-awareness. But when we aren’t… Read More

Managing your former coworkers

With clear and consistent leadership, it doesn’t have to be awkward. So you just got promoted. Congrats! Moving into a leadership role can be an exciting and fulfilling career step. But it can also come with its share of complications. Whether it’s keeping projects on track or people in line, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the demands of a new position, especially if you’re managing your old colleagues. Awkward! One of hazards of leadership is neglecting the values and virtues that put you on that path. As you level up and demonstrate your… Read More

Dealing with Negative Feedback

Negative feedback is inevitable, but how we deal with it is up to us. Getting negative feedback, especially from those we respect and trust, can quickly become an emotional train wreck that leaves us feeling hurt, helpless, and even a little bit hopeless. And when critical feedback is repeated over time, researchers have found that it can diminish our productivity, motivation and even our prospects for employment. The good news? We can flip the script on negative feedback by changing the story. While we can’t control what happens to us, we can… Read More

How To Deliver Difficult Feedback When You’re Working Apart

It starts with better planning, problem solving and partnership. While it’s certainly preferable to share corrective feedback face to face, current conditions may not allow it. The sustained shift to remote work has crimped the communications of many leaders, especially when they’re called upon to share difficult news from a distance. The result: Low-grade, infrequent feedback that often resembles a “praise sandwich” and glosses over the delicate but necessary information employees sometimes need to hear.  Withholding feedback comes at a cost. A study by CEB showed that companies with a culture of open communication had… Read More