Heads Up

It’s highly likely that we are someone else’s difficult conversation. I’m sure you work to get things right but sadly without realising it it’s likely that there’s something we do that isn’t working for someone or a group. Maybe that ‘thing’ is something we accept as necessary, maybe we’re not aware of it.

What it means is: you are someone’s difficult conversation.

And what do you do if someone is brave enough to tell you? Here are 5 steps you can follow – and if you do you’ll help create a culture of feedback.

Say thank you– show that you appreciate the feedback that has been given. This is always important, but even more so when it comes from someone who is below you in the hierarchy, as most people take a risk when they give upward feedback.

Accept the feedback– adopt a frame of mind that accepts feedback as this will help you probe and understand better. You might discard or park it later but, for now, entertain that there might be some gold nuggets in the comment and show a willingness to find them.

Ask questions– not everyone’s feedback wwill be crisp and clear so you might need to ask some questions to understand it better. You might ask for some specific examples . It can help to position why you have questions by explaining: ‘I’d like to understand this better and so I’d like to ask some questions about it, is that OK with you? You don’t want to sound like you’re rejecting the feedback, you want to show that you’re interested.

Commit or don’t commit– remember that you have a choice with feedback; act on it, reject it, or park it. If it’s feedback that you know you ant to act on then you can share that, but you might simply say that you want to take it away to consider what’s been said.

Showing you’re using it– if you decide the feedback was useful and you want to act on it, show this where you can, in the same way you would want to see your team making use if feedback you’ve given them.

For further tips and practical advice on how to manage those tricky conversations, read my book ‘Successful difficult conversations in schools’, ranked #1 in education theory on Amazon: https://ukheadsup.com/sdcbook/