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Come With a Blank Slate

Consider these two ways of asking for feedback:

  1. We need to increase our sales numbers. I was thinking of moving Sarah over from Marketing to lead a new team for Q4. What do you think?
  2. We need to increase our sales numbers. How do you think we should do it?

The first option puts a suggestion out on the table. It’s couched in a way that looks like feedback, but it’s really asking for agreement and support. You could phrase it differently as “Moving Sarah over from Marketing is the best move here, right?”

Depending on your relationship with the receiving party, many will just agree with your original suggestion. As a trend, we dislike disagreements and try to avoid them. You’ve given them an easy out.

The first option allows you to check off the box for “Asked for feedback.” The other side didn’t really get to offer any kind of opinion. It’s an example of adding too much value to the conversation.

The second option asks for actual feedback. You’re not imposing some kind of secret agenda on the other side. You ask a question, and then you actually listen to what they have to say.

The hardest part of these conversations is closing your mouth once you’ve asked the question. My internal dialogue: “Ask the question. Then, shut up.”

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