One of the hardest things to do in a professional setting is to give feedback. It's even harder to do when giving feedback to someone with more seniority. I'm not going to get into why giving/receiving feedback is important but it is. A few days ago I found myself needing to give feedback to someone much more senior than myself. As I was in the middle of delivering my feedback she said something that set the tone for the rest of the conversation:
And she was right. I was dialing back my thoughts and throwing in a few compliments in hopes that she wouldn't take offense to what I was saying. She recognized it, stopped me, and gave me the permission I needed to be honest. From that point on I gave the feedback I was intending.
In an ideal setting you shouldn't need to give someone permission to give feedback but we're all human. We all have insecurities that cause us to hold back. Giving feedback is hard. Thankfully, receiving permission to give the feedback made it a little bit easier. I believe a strong feedback culture is a tenet of a healthy organization but it doesn't take much to get there! Providing a safe place for someone to give the first piece of feedback makes subsequent conversations easier. If you're unsure, start by giving someone permission.