How to tell people what you think of them…

In terms of helping someone to become a better coach the most impactful thing I do is tell people what I think of them. How they come across and how I experience them.  It’s such a rich source of useful feedback but it’s also really hard to get right.

If you’re keen to do this a good start point is to acknowledge that what you tell them is what you think.  It’s not fact.  It’s your reality based on your experiences and how you see the world. I’ve found being aware of this allows me to shape how I interact to give the feedback the best chance of landing in a way that will be useful and not threatening. How? Here are some ideas…

  • Acknowledge what you are about to share are not facts, just observations that might be useful.
  • Be aware of any perceived status you may have in the interaction (coaching expert, parent etc.) and whether you feel observations might be landing as advice.
  • Pay close attention to how they respond and don’t be tempted to fill awkward silences – encouraging them to share their thoughts and feelings will tell you much more about the impact of what you’ve just shared.
  • Ask yourself as you prepare, why do I think what I think? This is really useful in checking the feedback is actually about them and not about you.
  • Try this out very subtly to begin with to see how it works. I find this approach isn’t for everyone but through trial and error I feel I can now work out who might be up for it before any damage is done!!

There are of course other options but whatever you do take your time because as impactful as it is to tell someone what you think of them, if it’s not carefully considered it can feel so personal that any future feedback is even harder to deliver.

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