051 – They told me I’m “Too Nice?!” Dealing with inactionable feedback

051 – They told me I’m “Too Nice?!” Dealing with inactionable feedback

We love our listeners, and we love to answer your questions! In fact,  this episode comes straight from a call for help we received from one of our listeners. She shared with us that her manager told her that she was “too nice” with her project team, and asked us for help in how to deal with this ambiguous feedback. 

Most of us have received ambiguous feedback like this. “You need to be tougher,”  “you are too abrupt,” “You need to present better to executives,” or something else like that. But how do you turn that vague feedback into action, and gain confidence back? 

In this episode Kate shares her personal experience with some recent “inactionable” feedback she received, and shares how she worked through that feedback to achieve a positive outcome. 


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Check out this episode!

Show Notes

What is inactionable feedback? [3:21]

This issue came from a question from one of our listeners, specifically, what to do with the feedback they were “too nice.”

Today, we’re going to talk about inactionable feedback like this, what feedback you should listen to, what this feedback could be about, and how to find ways to act on this feedback.

Who gave you this feedback? [6:54]

The first question you need to ask yourself is does this person giving you feedback have your best interests in mind? Are they someone you admire or want to be like? Are they there to support you? Not all feedback is created equal, and you need to prioritize if you want to get your feedback from this person or not.

You should invest as much energy into the feedback as the person giving the feedback is investing in you.

Rather than getting stressed or emotionally involved, try stopping and getting curious about feedback, as often times this feedback can feel like it comes out of nowhere.

Storytime: Ambiguous Feedback [9:03]

Here, Kate talks about a time she received inactionable feedback and how she was able to take action on it and understand it.

Inactionable feedback can feel like it comes out of nowhere. It’s ok to feel emotion about the feedback, a way to deal with it is to say thank you to the person giving feedback.

Discussing greater points about the topic of feedback can help hone down the feedback to the root of the issue. Taking trainings suggested by the person giving you feedback can also be helpful to understanding feedback. Keeping in conversation with the giver of the feedback is important to implementing it in a useful way.

Stay in Dialogue [15:30]

Make sure to thank the person giving you the feedback- it can help keep the conversation open, calm your nerves, and keep you engaged. It’s easy to ignore feedback, but addressing feedback continually with the person giving you the feedback is important to understanding it.

Context Clues and Uninvolved Feedback [18:06]

Have conversations about the feedback and pay attention to the aspects of the feedback.

If you have a feedback giver that is less involved in working through this with you, try journaling the conversation, and think about the context of the conversation outside of the piece of feedback.

It’s important, too, to understand whether this is a problem of how you take action or how your actions are perceived. You can also take some time and address the feedback later, especially if you feel an emotional response and need time to chew on the topic. Telling the person you want to address the feedback at a later date not only allows you to have a more productive discussion if you need it, while letting the person know you still value that feedback.

Feedback is a Two Way Street [27:10]

Feedback is a conversation, and both the giver and receiver of it have a responsibility to clarify it. Asking questions and clarification about the feedback are good places to start, and if straightforward questions don’t give you answers, try focusing on behaviors or consequences. It might be useful to ask for training on the topic, as well.

Once you have found something actionable in the feedback, try inviting them to a meeting where you think you’ll do well, then ask for their thoughts. Checking back in with them on the feedback is a great way to keep the conversation going.

You may be in trouble if… [34:33]

  • You got inactionable feedback and you did nothing about it
  • You argue with the feedback

Principals for Success [36:25]

  • When emotions are high, get curious
  • Give yourself the time you need to be curious

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    Kim Essendrup

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