How to respond to: “I’m going to be brutally honest with you”

how-to-respond-to-brutal-honest-with-you

What happens the moment you hear, ‘I’m going to be brutally honest with you’?

I tend to filter out the honest part and tense up, wondering about the brutal part. You the same?

You sense what’s coming next. It doesn’t feel good.

We’re ‘brutally honest’ when someone annoys us but we can’t say it to their face.

We dress it up as feedback. It’s passive aggressive. It’s sly and a little bit mean.

I’ve never felt good about myself after giving brutal honest feedback.

And why brutal?

We could just say, ‘Here’s my opinion. Take it or leave it.’

Maybe it’s related to ‘tough love’.

It pre-supposes that you need to hear something very harsh, very painful, which other people aren’t telling you. Something you need to hear NOW. And it’s often true.

Our friends are the last to highlight our weaknesses. You learn more squabbling with enemies. But who wants to do that, right?

Back to the harsh truth.

Here’s how I approach it.

  • Put your feelings on hold for a moment.
  • Examine what they’re getting at.
  • Ask them if your understanding is correct.

‘Ok, I hear you. So, you’re saying the way I manage the team would be better if I did this. Is that correct?’

This helps the other person refine their thinking.

Your aim isn’t to undermine them, or dismiss their feedback, rather it’s to get a better understanding of the underlying problem.

Suddenly, you’ve shifted it from a blame game to a dialogue.

I genuinely believe that most people want to help. They may not have the tools or capacity to give you feedback in an elegant way, so they use stock phrases and business jargon instead. But something in what they’re saying is true.

Of course, it’s hard not to be insulted.

Here’s how I try to deal with it.

  1. Imagine it’s a play.
  2. You’re an actor.
  3. They’re playing one role, you’re playing another.
  4. Remember your lines.
  5. Observe what’s happening.

Why am I saying this?

The weeks and days go by very fast.

Instead of stewing with anger, look hard, as hard as you can at what they said.

Was there some kernel of truth in there?

Probably.

Ask yourself: ‘How can I turn this to my advantage?’

What can I change today?

Thousands of templates to jump start your project

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan