A Daily Dispatch from the Front Lines of Leadership.


Leave Out the Gristle

What a leader doesn’t say often speaks much more loudly than what they do say. This is especially true when it comes to giving people direct feedback. 

Leaving out the empty and negative comments that provide no utility is a sign of a leader who understands the power of saying more by saying less. Take the “gristle” out of feedback by omitting those comments that people can’t act on. 

A few examples:

  • “This is a pattern for you…” 
  • “I don’t know what you were thinking…” 
  • “I can’t believe you didn’t…” 
  • “Only a novice would have…” 
  • “Not your best work…” 
  • “I didn’t like it all…” 
  • “You couldn’t be more wrong…” 
  • “Everything needs to be changed…” 
  • “Did you really think that would work?” 
  • “Really poor…” 
  • “Not what I was hoping for…” 

When others can’t act on the feedback you give them, they hear the comments as hurtful and they tune out. If the point of feedback is to get others to behave differently, then comments without utility serve very little purpose other than to provide catharsis for those offering them. 

The best leaders edit themselves and strive to cut the wasteful and potentially inflammatory statements out of their feedback. You might be surprised how many wasteful comments are attached to your insightful feedback. What you don’t say really matters. 

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