How To Give Negative Feedback Without Hard Feelings

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Have you ever had a time when you wanted to give a friend or a co-worker some negative feedback, but you are apprehensive? You don’t know how they are going to interpret it?

If you are in human resources, you may know exactly what I mean.

You toss and turn at night wondering if you should offer your feedback.

Has this ever happened to you?

Well, it doesn’t have to be that tough a decision. There’s a way to do so without friction or hard feelings.

If you sincerely care about people, you should face your fear and give them negative feedback with a compassionate heart.

Let me share with you why.

We are experiencing some unprecedented changes. This world is radically different.

We cannot afford to remain the same and expect to survive and thrive. It’s going to require a new you to overcome today’s challenges.

We must reinvent ourselves. The question is, how to do you do so? What would it take? The answer is simple:

Honest feedback!

Yes, to be a better leader or manager in the new era, you need constant feedback. That’s how we improve.

You must realize that no matter how great you are, there’s room for improvement. Feedback is the mother of innovation and reinvention.

Yes, I know some people are arrogant. They think they know everything. That’s sad.

Arrogance is the brutal enemy of personal and professional growth and progress.

Those who think they have all the answers are fools.

Mastery is impossible without constant feedback.

Let me share with a simple formula to share negative feedback.

The Secret To Sharing Negative Feedback Without Offending Others

The formula is PSP. P is for Praise. S is for Share. And P is for Praise again. Now, let me break it down for you.

1- P: is for Praise

People can be very sensitive. The reality is, we all have an ego. We can get easily get hurt.

You must praise and elevate before you anything negative. Think of it like driving on the road and you are coming up to a big pothole.

You have to prepare yourself by slowing down and proceeding with caution.

The negative feedback is the pothole. The praise is your way of proceeding with caution.

You simply say something like, “Susie, you’ve been a fantastic member of our teams. I love your positive energy. Last month we were late and almost missed our deadline. But, you rescued us.”

Notice the specificity here.

There’s Magic In Specificity

It’s not enough to say, “You are great.” Tell the person specifically what makes him or her great. The more specific you are, the more impactful it will be.

You are boosting the person self-esteem before you give the negative feedback.

2- S: is for Share

Now you are ready to deliver the negative feedback. You say, “There’s an issue we need to work on.” Do you see how I use the word we?

Now, you are ready to share the issue. But there is just one small catch.

Always Disassociate The Person From The Negative Behavior

The person is never the behavior. I’m sure we all have issues. But bad habits don’t make us bad people.

Unfortunately, most times our relationships are with the bad behavior instead of the person.

As an example, let’s say a person is a liar. We tend to develop a relationship with the lyar. We listen to the liar. So, we know a person for twenty or forty years. But, never actually never meet the person.

All right, how do you disassociate the person from the negative behavior? How do you let the individual know his or her poor performance is not who they are?

Gesture away when you share the negative feedback. When you do so, you automatically send a signal to the person. You are saying the person is not the behavior.

Although, I strongly suggest you emphasize it. Gesture away. Then you say, “This is not like you.”

3- P: is for Praise

Okay, now that you share what’s on your mind, it’s time to elevate again. Here’s my best advice to you.

Never Walk Away From Any Conversation Without Leaving The Person On A High Note.

Here’s something to keep in mind: When you praise, you elevate.

When you share the negative feedback, you tend to bring the person down. That’s why you end on a high note.

The high note is much better if you future pace the person. Let me explain.

Feedback is the past. To move forward, we have to focus on the future.

You ask a future based question by saying, “By the way, what is your vision? Where do you see yourself in this company? Is there a position you would like to occupy in the future?”

Once you hear the reply, say, “Excellent! I can see you as the regional manager. I’m ready to help you. Let me know if can share any resources or information with you.”

Can you imagine how great that feels? That’s your way of communicating you sincerely care.


Use this PSP formula in your workplace and personal live. The impact is the same.

Maybe it’s your best friend who has been behaving weird lately. It may be your kids or significant other.

With this approach, you never have to feel awkward again. In fact, your friends, family members or co-worker will think the world of you.

Simply put, I’m arming you with a powerful psychological weapon. Except that in this case, you use this weapon to build instead of destroying.

A Surprising Secret For Attracting Superstar Employees

A Surprising Secret For Attracting Superstar Employees

The little girl was the daughter of one of the Italian dignitaries. She spoke every little English. But that one sentence she uttered triggered in my mind how companies can attract and keep top talents in the workplace.

If you are in any leadership position, pay close attention. It’s how successful organizations become magnets to attract the very best in their industry. It can also lift you up to the top of your company.

More importantly, it will inspire your team members to stay and thrive together during the turbulent change. Let me get to the point.

It was 1996. Atlanta was the home of the Olympic Games. I was a doorman at a luxurious hotel. We were the host site for several international delegations. The hotel was full of attendees, dignitaries, and volunteers.

Justina was the little girl. She was only nine years old. Her father was a prominent personality in the Olympics. Every day, she would go to the games with her family.

She would always bring back a little gift for me. We became buddies. Through her broken English, we managed to carry some conversations.

But what’s important here is when Justina said,

“Mister, I love Olympics. One big family. You… my family. All people are happy.”

On the last day, it was so tough to say goodbye. I remember the teddy bear hug Justina gave me. We both shed some tears. The volunteers and the hotel employees were hugging each other with tears in their eyes. It was as if we’ve been together for years.

As I look back on Justina’s remark and the tears that were shed on the last day of the Olympics, it dawns on me something magical happens when leaders focus on…

Creating Caring Communities

I believe the planners of the Olympics intentionally engineer each experience to trigger the feeling of community. All leaders at every level in the organization should do the same.

Think about it. There so many breathtaking emotions during the Olympic Games. We bond, cry, cheer, laugh, and reflect. We feel inspired and motivated to go for our gold in life. Whether it’s at home or in person, you still feel the thrill.

Then there are the Olympic Villages – the accommodation centers for athletes, trainers, and the officials.

Let me ask you this: What does the word village conjure up in your mind?

That reminds me of my village in Haiti. In a way, it was a caring community. The people were always there for each other.

The Big Takeaway:

If you want to create highly productive teams or zealous volunteers for your cause, inspire them to think, act and behave as one big caring community.

Here’s why:

They come because of the job. But they will stay because of the community.

They will ultimately decide to stick around or leave based on their emotional connection with each other.

As human beings, we have a vital and psychological need to belong. That’s how we are wired. We need to bond.

According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to belong is right up there with the need for safety and food.

We desire to connect with individuals who share our beliefs and care about us. We need the encouragement, support, and cheers of others. That’s the spirit of the Olympics. That’s what little Justina meant.

When the need to belong is not met, we break down and experience emotional pains. We feel rejected and isolated. We suffer from low self-esteem and confidence.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you still crave to belong. The introverts may have social anxiety. But they still secretly want to break through their fears for social interaction.

That explains why some people would get and stay in abusive relationship. They have a deep craving to connect and bond.

The funny thing is, we want freedom, independence, and autonomy. But, we also want to depend on each other. We want to mingle.

Whether you are the pastor of a church or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, creating a vibrant and caring community should be your top priority.

How do you do so?

Engineer Experiences That Emotionally Connect Your Team Members

When I’m keynoting a conference, one of my top priorities is to trigger a sense of community within the audience. Why? It’s because once they connect, they are more responsive to my message.

I would ask them to do something as simple as “Give someone you have not met a high five and say ‘You are so awesome!’.” Or I invite a few of them to come on the stage to play and ask the rest cheer them up.

Have you ever heard someone say, “My job is my extended family.”

That’s my point!

However, that CANNOT happen organically. You must have meaningful conversations about it with your team members and leaders. Create activities that require them to interact, so they get to connect and bond.

The bottom line is, the more people feel connected as an interdependent community, the harder it is for them to give up and walk away.

For some people, the caring family at work may ultimately matter more to them than their own family.

Justina must be about thirty years old. I have no idea if I will ever be able to cross her path again. But in spirit, we are still connected.

It’s the same for your team members. They will stay connected in spirit for years to come.

If done right, you will boost morale, productivity, and stickiness. The word will get out, and you will attract and keep the superstars of your field.

Continuous Learning In The Workplace Is The Best Way To Survive Change

Continuous Learning In The Workplace Is The Best Way To Survive Change

Unless you make continuous learning in the workplace your top priority, your job may be on the line. I want you to hold on to that thought. I will expound on it later. For now, let’s talk about change and its impact.

It’s no secret we’re now living in a world that is entirely different than the one we used to know.

Yes, the world is going through a total transformation. Things are changing at breakneck speeds. The reality is, there’s no turning back.

It’s obvious that the internet and cheap bandwidth are responsible for the disturbing change. We’re in the middle of a digital revolution that is creating panic and uncertainties.

Many people in the workplace are frozen waiting for things to get back to normal. Somehow, they think their company is going through a temporary crisis. They are unaware that this new normal world.

The reality is, change can be both scary and exciting at the same time. The things that frighten us the most sometimes bring incredible opportunities with them.

But, those opportunities will only be available to a few. Only those that are willing to embrace change will capitalize on them.

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Learn, Unlearn And Relearn To Stay Relevant

According to Eric Hoffer, you should be afraid if you are not you embrace continuous learning in the workplace.

So, I strongly advise you to continue to learn, unlearn, and relearn. If not, you’ll soon find yourself completely unnecessary in the workplace. Your skills will become obsolete.

That means you will not have a future in your company. But, the continuous learners will rise and soar to the top.

I am not trying to threaten you by any means. I am just sharing some good old common sense advice with you.

That’s what I mean when I say change sometimes brings incredible opportunities with it.

Not long ago, I delivered a motivational keynote presentation on change for Cbeyond. They an Atlanta-based company acquired by Birch Communications.

Cbeyond is an innovative company that stays on the cutting edge of technologies. Their employees told me in countless ways how well the company treats them. I hope Birch Communications keeps the same reputation.

At the time, they were facing a tough challenge. Their mandate was to be totally a cloud-based company within five years. It was necessary so they can stay competitive and profitable.

If you are not at the forefront of technology, you probably don’t know yet about cloud technology. It’s like running your entire business without hard drives, thumb drives, or storage devices. Everything is in the cloud.

That’s the future. Even the software we once bought at the electronic store is not in the cloud. Soon, no one will have a need for a hard drive.

That means you don’t need hundreds of wires to connect your computers with each other. They are all connected in the cloud. That’s amazing! Isn’t it?

My advice to the employees was simple. I told them that this change is a gift. It’s their opportunity to remain relevant. They need to embrace and accept it.

I encouraged them to excel in cloud technology. Learn everything that there is to learn about it. The reality is, this technology is not a fad. It is here to stay. It’s either they master it or become irrelevant in the workplace.

New Challenges And Problems

Today, new and different kinds of challenges or problems confront us. As they say in the digital age, the moment you figure out how something works, it’s obsolete.

As soon as the members of your team huddle to solve a problem, another one surfaces. It’s like someone is throwing curve balls at you constantly.

Sometimes, you find yourself unprepared to deal with the new problems or challenges. What do you do?

Choose to unlearn and relearn. Refuse to remain stuck in the past.

Unlearning and relearning will enable you to make swift decisions to solve tough problems.

Together, you have to outsmart and out-think the competition to win. The days when one would learn some new skills and repeat them for the next 20 years are over.

During these difficult and uncertain times, you have to be a perpetual student. You have to be and stay informed.

You can’t wait around for someone to tell you what and when to learn. No. It’s your job to stay current and relevant in the workplace.

The New Competition In The Workforce

Would you say that your competition is fiercer than ever as an employee? You bet! In the past, you were competing with a handful of people in your field.

Today, you would be surprised to discover who is your competition. As far as I know, you may be competing with a 24 years old in a remote village in the Philippines, India, or Jamaica.

What’s unnerving about this is the fact that your competition is willing to work for a fraction of your salary. I’m not saying it’s a good thing nor am I bragging about it.

I’m just trying to raise your awareness so you can step up your game. I’m attempting to cajole and persuade you to be a continuous learner in the workplace. You have to stay relevant and competitive.

I know we cannot replace high touch with high tech. Human beings need interactions to function. People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people.

A worker in Romania probably cannot provide such human connection. Yes, social media is providing the means for us to connect with each other. But, I doubt it can replace a warm face to face smile.

The point I’m trying to convey to you is very simple. Continuous learning in the workplace is your leverage. During these turbulent times, that’s what will make indispensable. That’s what will give you the edge.

Listen to Eric Hoffer’s advice or you will wake up to find yourself beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exist.

5 Attitudes To Help You Keep Your Job In This New Economy

5 Attitudes To Help You Keep Your Job In This New Economy

2012 was a very challenging year for many corporations. A violent wave of change continue to sweep the workplace. Many lost their jobs and homes. Some silently watched their retirement investments go down the drain. The unemployment rate is at an all time high. I’m sure you have heard about the fiscal cliff. Right?

If you survived the latest layoff, chances are, you are asking to do more with less. To say the least, stress is choking the life out of employees in the workplace.

I bet you never expected this kind of workplace when you filled out the job application a few years ago. After all, you were promised a fulfilling and rewarding career. But ,instead of a rewarding and fulfilling career, you are hoping that you will still have a job a month or a year from now.

Well, that is not to say your company lied to you. They just didn’t foresee the disruptive changes that are violently shaking the business world.

Unfortunately, things are not about to get better or back to normal soon. In fact, you should get used to the new normal. Disruptive technologies will continue to emerge. Companies will be forced to downsize and streamline.

The only thing you can do is to work on yourself to make sure you become indispensable. Simply put, you have to go from being a liability to being an asset to your company.

Let me offer you five new attitudes you need to embrace during these rapidly changing times in order to stay relevant and employable.

1. Accept This New Reality & Think Solutions

It is a fact that things are bad. Face it. Accept it and move on. This is not the time to dwell on the problems. Your challenges will not go away because you constantly complain about them. Your best bet is to focus on solutions. And yes, there’s a solution for every problem. Just look hard and you’ll find it.

Your company will absolutely love you for being a problem solver. Keep in mind that replaying and rehashing the good old days is not a solution. It’s only a surefire way to create undue stress for yourself and your team.

Acceptance is the key.

We all know the world is going through a shift or a total transformation. Unforeseen events continue to happen. Therefore, you should focus all your energy on coming up with the right solutions that can help your company thrive in spite of their challenges.

2. Wipe Your Tears And Make Peace With Change

It is said that whatever we fight will persist. I know you probably are not happy with all this change in your workplace. You might even cry at times because of your frustrations. I know you have to work harder for less money. But I want to encourage to stop fighting change so that you can keep your job.

Right now, companies are looking for collaborators. They have zero tolerance for those who continue to fight change. You really don’t have a choice here. It’s either you go with the program or leave the program.

Think of it this way: The New Normal won’t be too normal at first. Just embrace it. Make peace with it.

3.  Be Patient During The Transition Of Change.. Don’t Give Up!

At the end of the day, you will be victorious. However, you have to see yourself as a victor instead of a victim. We all know that the transition of change is difficult. But, that’s not a reason to give up or walk away.

I say this because some people are really defeated mentally. They are tuned out. Physically they show up to work. But, they are mentally absent. Well, if that’s you, it’s time to come back to your senses and be present.

Years ago, when I came to this country with two shirts, one pair of pants and five dollars, things were tough. I didn’t have any connections or resources. Talking about doing more with less?

The only thing I had going for me was persistence. I refused to give up. I knew I was destined for greatness. I had to go through a transition of change in order to acclimate myself with a new country.

Many times I got discouraged. But, the obstacles in my way were nothing compared to the future that loomed ahead. Patiently, I kept pressing on. I refused to give up. I’m so glad I did.

Roll up your sleeves and enthusiastically help your company weather the storm. That’s the attitude you need to embrace in order to become indispensable. Be patient. Give it time. Stay with it.

4.  Become A Learner Instead Of A Learned

Eric Hoffer said, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Simply put, the learned stop learning a long time ago. But the learner keeps on learning. The challenges your company is dealing with cannot be overcome with the old knowledge. They need fresh insights and innovative ideas.

Your job is to step up and be the one with those fresh and innovative insights. Help them innovate their way out of the crisis.  The key is to acquire new knowledge that that is critical to the survival of your company.

Invest hours into learning and absorbing cutting-edge and in-demand information. For example, if Social Media Marketing is critical to the success of your company, master it. Make sure no one else in your company understands it better than you do. Be the best at it.

Maybe your company is losing their customer base because they are poorly using social media to communicate with them. Well, master the art of customer service through social media. It’s that simple.

Show your company how you can generate more leads and sales for them. They will love you for it. They will keep you around for years.

 5.  Become An Uplifting Team Player

This is the best attitude to have right now. A negative and pessimistic attitude is not welcome during difficult times in the workplace. Negative attitudes tend to slow down teams and production. That’s why you have to stay away from the gossips and negative rumors.

Now is the time to become a cheer leader for  each other. Whenever you hear others complaining, remind them that there’s nothing they can do to stop what is happening. Help them focus on solutions. Cheer them up!

Be there for your team members. Encourage them. Go out of your way to help and assist when you can. Be the kind of cheerleader the company wants on their team.  Go out of your way to be of service to others. Don’t make it all about you.

Always go the extra mile. If you need to wait an extra hour to get something done or help a co-worker, do so with a pleasant attitude. Everyone has to chip in and help make things better in the new normal world.

Those are the kind of attitudes that can separate you from the pack. You have to be indispensable and remarkable.

Change Is A Gift… Embrace It Now Or You’ll Soon Be Irrelevant!

change is a gift

Have you noticed some disturbing change going on in your workplace lately? How do you feel about that? Are you still feeling the same passion you had when you started a few years  or months ago? How is the morale?

My guess is, your company is experiencing some turbulence at this time. Things are definitely not what they used to be. I can bet you that a lot of your co-workers are not happy. Needless to say in this “New Normal World” stress is ruining lives in the workplace.

The question is, why is all of this happening now? Why is morale so low? Well, it’s not really hard to figure this out. Most employees in the workplace  are afraid, uncertain, and even confused. Now, when people are confused and afraid, their stress levels go up. Would you agree? Let me share this with you:

If you are experiencing the kinds of feelings I’m describing here, you have every reason to feel that way. After all, you’ve invested so much of yourself in your job. Then, suddenly you start feeling perhaps your company doesn’t really care about you. All they care about is their bottom line.

They are expecting you to do more with less.

I travel all over North America delivering motivational keynote speeches on change. People come to me all the time to ask how they can cope with all the change that is going on. My first answer is this: Dont’ take it personally. Why do I answer that way?

It’s because some people tend to think somehow the company is giving them a hard time. What they don’t realize is, no business can continue to survive now and beyond using old practices. In other words, business in NOT as usual.

You see, every company is shifting gears during this current economic turmoil. They are being forced to change their approaches. Global events, the Internet, and the economic meltdown demand new ways of doing and thinking.

CEOs and senior level managers cannot sit idle and hope things will be okay. If they do, the exit door is not too far. As you might be aware, the shareholders of major corporations don’t care about you or the CEO. They care about profit.

Shareholders want accountability… Not excuses.

That’s why the senior level executives have to make some painful and unpopular strategic choices. If they don’t, their job in on the line. Haven’t you seen or heard on the news how many CEOs who were forced to step down in the last couple of years? Look, at the end of the day, it’s their job or your job.

CEOs are taking a brutal beating from their investors. They are forced to shift gears. They are fully aware that now is not the time to try to be a popular CEO. It’s about results.

So, what does that mean to you as an employee? Why do you have to care about the CEO and his job? Actually, it has a lot to do with you… Maybe I should say your job. Let me be blunt with you for a moment. If you want to keep your job, you have to endure some of the beating the CEO is getting.

I know this is not nice to say because you’re not making his salary. But, I’m just a messenger. As they say, don’t shoot the messenger. Look, it pains me when I talk to so many people who are losing everything they worked so hard for because they lost their jobs. I’m only trying to give you this wake up call:

Embrace change now or become irrelevant.

Honestly, you should be glad your company is changing things. That means they foresee something and they are making the right adjustments to stay alive and profitable which means job assurance for you. Do you see what I mean?

In fact, you should be more scared if your company was not initiating change. That would mean it’s a dead company. They would be on the verge of collapsing.

Everybody has to bear the burden. Everybody has to bunker down and find ways to keep the ship floating. That requires everyone to do more with less. And I do mean everyone all the way to the person taking out the trash. Above all, everyone  must be better team players.

Please do not let the change that is happening wreck your life. You can live through it or die through it. It’s conscious choice.  It’s just a mindset. The reality is, you will never be able to stop or slow down the train of change. It doesn’t matter what you do or think, it will keep moving.

So, what’s the solution?

Embrace change now! See it as a gift instead of a curse. As this article on Forbes web site points out, learn to love change. I’m sure you have heard that whatever you resist persists. Stop resisting change. Make peace with it. Do the best you can with what you have where you are and stop fussing. It’s not good for your health.

Again, change is a gift. You can never grow and get to the next level by remaining the same or being comfortable. Something must occur to make you feel some level of discomfort. And that something is called change.

The main thing to keep in mind is that change is neutral. It’s not the reason why you are feeling the way you’re feeling. It’s rather the way you are responding to it. It’s the internal conversations you’re having with yourself that determine your attitude toward the change that is happening.

In the next post, I will share with you how to become a highly paid and indispensable team player during times of tough change.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to read your thoughts on what I just shared with you.

Welcome To The New Normal World

Wake Up! The Good Old Days Are Gone Forever!

If you’re dreaming and wishing for the good old days to come back, you’re dreaming and wishing an impossible dream. This is it. This is your new and real life. This is your new and real workplace.

Do you remember when money was floating around and your company was spending it just because it was available? Do you remember the perks and bonuses? Yeah! Life was wonderful, wasn’t it?

My advice to stop replaying the good old days in your head. You are actually creating undue stress for yourself. Let’s see…

Today, you are being asked, or even forced, to do more with less in spite of your lack of resources and a shrinking staff. It seems like most people are struggling with one thing or another. The news keeps telling you things it will get worse before it gets better.

Most people are frozen in their tracks hoping the good old days will surface again. Well, I have bad news for them. Those days they’re waiting for will never, EVER, come back to normal. I know. I know. As a professional keynote speaker that inspire and motivate others to be optimistic about the future, I shouldn’t be sharing the bad news with you.

The reality is, I’m trying to be real with you. I could easily tell you what you want to hear. But, it wouldn’t be good for your mental state. At some point, you and I have to face the reality that is present. Yes, we are disappointed with how things are turning out. But, we have to suck it up and move on.

This is the new normal world. Welcome to it! You might as well make yourself right at home. Whether you want it or not, things will continue to change. No one knows for sure what this world is going to be in tomorrow. I just know more disappointments are on the way. Just be ready and be bold to face what may come.

The futurists can only take a stab at the future. They are in the dark just like the rest of us. They thought they had it figured out until the economic tsunami swept the business world and caused major havoc. They didn’t see it coming just like we didn’t see it coming. Of course, they will tell you they knew it after the fact.

You see, there are events that are totally unpredictable. Those may be natural catastrophes, or falling regimes in the Middle East. The key is to learn to readjust and embrace change.

Your thought right now may be, “He is supposed to inspire me. But this is too negative.” What do you mean I’m being too negative? This is awesome news for you. This is my way of positively preparing you to win regardless of your circumstances. You see, we are living in the most exciting times EVER!

Your chances of striking it big have increased dramatically over the last few years. As I say to my audience members often, “Change Is A Gift! Embrace it now or you risk becoming unnecessary.”

If you stop fighting change and make it a friend, you can discover the opportunities that lies ahead. And it’s not hard to see them. Simply ask yourself the right questions.

Change your inner conversation. Have the right attitude. As simple as that may sound, that’s exactly what you need these days. You need the attitude that says, “I will make it work. I will do the best I can with what I have. I am ready for more change. I will win. I will be successful.”

Come back here and I’ll share some exciting tips, ideas and strategies with you. I’ll show you how to become indispensable and relevant in this new economy. I’ll give you the tools you need to create the kind of future you want to live in.