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How direct are you when providing unpleasant feedback?

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 170,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each Tuesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How direct are you when providing unpleasant feedback?

  • Very direct — I don’t hold back: 10.78%
  • Direct — they get the message, but I sometimes soften it: 73.15%
  • Somewhat direct — I can get a little wishy-washy: 14.69%
  • Not at all direct — my message gets lost in other things: 0.95%
  • Avoidant — I rarely provide unpleasant feedback: 0.42%

Feedback is a gift. Providing that direct, actionable, unmistakable feedback is one of the most critical aspects of your job. For those of you on either side of “direct” (either “very direct” or “somewhat direct”), recognize the risks inherent in that approach. Being too direct can shut your people down and make them avoid you because of fear of getting “ripped”; being somewhat direct risks them ignoring the feedback or diminishing its significance. Recognize that each member of your team needs to be treated differently in terms of the style you use to deliver feedback, and beware of being too quick to call it like you see it.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”