Balancing objectivity with subjectivity defines the art of giving and receiving feedback. Leading with too much objectivity can potentially turn a meaningful process into a transaction that diminishes value and engagement. Subjectivity, in this case, refers to our willingness to appreciate the impact of different communication and personality styles, as well as individual interpretations and potential misinterpretations, so defensiveness can be replaced by curiosity.
As the provider of feedback, we need to be able to genuinely convey our desire to see the other person succeed. Seeking to understand creates an invitation for mutual insight and success. While leading with too much objectivity can create a truth-telling interaction that can stimulate defensiveness through a win-lose mindset, too much subjectivity can dilute the “need to know” from being adequately shared and received. Using a balanced approach increases the likelihood that deeper insight can result in more consistent and sustainable behavioral change.
Dedicating an appropriate level of attention and intention to these conversations lays the groundwork for an authentic and meaningful experience that brings the HOW and WHY into alignment with the WHAT. Framing the feedback with an appreciation for deeper motivations, needs, and concerns sets the right tone that optimizes for an honest and open conversation that facilitates collaboration and partnership. Follow up is critical to ensuring that feedback becomes a shared value that can be modeled in the broader organization.