Don’t Apologize for Giving Feedback

Don’t Apologize for Giving Feedback

Last week we had movers in our warehouse moving products in and out of storage. The movers charged by the hour. Shortly after they arrived, I noticed one of the movers on his phone. Then I noticed another on his phone. I didn’t say anything. The phone use continued. So, I politely asked the two movers to only use their phones when they were on a break. And then I felt bad about saying something and spent the rest of the day apologizing. I didn’t want them to think I was ‘mean’.

I know it was ok to hold them accountable. I was paying a lot of money for their time. It was completely reasonable to expect them to be working. But I want to be liked and approved of (yes, even by the movers who I’ll never see again).

Every time I apologized or sought to justify my message, my communication lost power. Why say anything if I’m going to spend the day regretting and retracting my message?

After the experience with the movers, I realized how often I apologize for making requests, even perfectly legitimate and modest requests. And I’m wondering why I do this? Are we taught it’s not ok to ask for things?

Making requests is a subtle form of giving feedback. It’s less direct than what I call the “tell method.”

It’s ok to have expectations. It’s ok to make requests. And it’s ok to hold people accountable. I know this. You know this. And yet, I see how often I and others apologize for making requests and giving feedback. I feel like we need a regular pep talk – a little bird whispering in our ear each time we ask someone to do what we hired them to do. “It’s ok to ask. You aren’t mean. It’s ok to hold people accountable. If people don’t want to do the work they agreed to or can’t accept feedback, they’re not the right people. ”

I’ll just keep giving myself that pep talk, because it’s ok to ask and not feel badly about it.

About Shari Harley

Shari Harley is the founder and president of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships That Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the US Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

Tags: 100% accountable, giving feedback, hard conversations, holding people accountable, how to say anything to anyone