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Want Your Feedback Heard? Leave Your “But” Out of It

Posted by Kristin Baird on September 6th, 2016 • No Comments »

Have you ever noticed that when someone compliments you, then follows it with “but …” you quickly forget the positive and focus on what was said after the “but?” The same thing holds true when giving feedback to your staff. You start out with a compliment followed by “but” and the focus falls on the latter part of the feedback – usually the negative.

Effective coaching requires that you be able to give useful feedback to create more meaningful dialogue, and leave your big “but” out of it. Try using a different bridge that won’t shut down someone’s hearing. Here’s one I love. Imagine you have a staff person who is competent, yet not friendly and engaging with customers. You want them to perform both more consistently. Try saying something like this. “Marsha, you do such a great job capturing and confirming patient information. At the same time, I notice that you’re inconsistent in how you greet and engage the patients during registration. Remember to smile, make eye contact, and greet the patients as they approach the desk.”  This is a softer bridge and is often better received than saying “but.”

Even using the word “yet” instead of “but” helps level out the two statements.

These are just a couple of the coaching tips I share during my leadership workshop, Coaching for Engagement and Improved Performance.  Remember that coaching is only effective if you are truly heard.

If you want to be heard, leave your big “but” out of it.

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Baird Consulting


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