Giving Feedback to People Who Cry, Yell or Get Defensive


The multi-family industry has an array of opportunities and a good team the best way to increase your success within this industry. Managers are the key to a strong or weak team. The better you, as a manger, can provide feedback to your team, and the better the team is able to receive feedback, the better the growth of the company.

Why Offer Feedback

Review performance and make sure there is a system in place to provide feedback to your staff members. This can happen on a quarterly or annual basis and is essential to growth. Give your employees a voice as well.
Employees, especially Millenials, need a voice. They also enjoy knowing how they are doing at their job and that they are performing on the job consistently. Plan goals together. As a manager, part of your job is to receive feedback well. The key to growth is to create a plan where you can provide feedback to your staff in a way that allows them to implement it into their job performance.

Obstacles to Providing Feedback

Lack of Clarity – This can happen when you are uncomfortable with giving feedback. The clearer you can be about the feedback, negative or positive, the better.
Late Feedback – Feedback must happen in a timely manner; this includes positive and negative feedback. Be prepared to state why you provided the specific feedback as well.
No Ideas Exchanged – Allow your employees to share why they completed a project or job a certain way. As a supervisor, this may provide you with fresh new ideas and insights.
Always Negative – Feedback is often seen as negative and the first instinct to respond is usually “What did I do wrong?” It is time to shift this around and offer positive feedback as well as negative.

Feedback Model

Situation: What was the environment?

Describe the environment and climate around the situation that warranted the feedback. State what was happening when an action took place (or failed to take place). This reinforces with your team that their actions, good or bad, have consequences.

Behavior: What did you observe?

Tell your team what you observed that helped or hurt the situation.

Impact: How did it make you feel?

After you have shared the situation and the behavior, tell your team how their action impacted you as a supervisor or the overall team. For example, “While we were testing the leasing app, you proactively took notes on all of the feedback from the team without prompting. This was very helpful.”

Advice for Offering Tough Feedback

Remember the “Why”

As the manager, focus on why the meeting is taking place. This is key as the team member’s emotional response to the feedback can affect how you provide the message. Start the conversation with this phrase: “I need to share this with you because I want you to be successful (or keeping growing).”

Find Your Center and Prepare

The key to keeping your center is to know yourself. How do you respond when someone pushes back on your feedback or if you feel sorry for him/her. The better you know yourself, the better you can prepare yourself to be in the moment for the actual conversation. You cannot “wing” a feedback session or your staff member can try to shoot holes into your feedback; you must be prepared.

Handle Reactions in the Moment

Your preparation will allow you to stay centered within the conversation, no matter the other person’s reaction. Think about your expected outcome, no matter the length of the conversation or feedback session. This allows you to be present for either positive or negative reactions from your staff members during a feedback session.

Move the Conversation to a Productive Place

The goal here is to move the conversation or outcome to a positive and productive place. If the conversation cannot be moved to a productive place, you may want to consider a second meeting. Doing so can be invaluable to stepping back and having that second conversation.

You can end the conversation using this phrase: “I just do not feel like we are exchanging here in an open environment and so I’d like to move this to a different time. Let’s reconvene at (set a date and time) so that we can continue the conversation.”

Remember You Have a Job to Do

Share the “why”; be very specific about why the feedback is being given and be willing to listen and come to a type of shared plan. You can ask your team member, “How will you do this differently?” and then listen to their answer. Be open to hearing their solution.

Name the Issue

Be specific with what the feedback is pertaining to so the leasing staff member can understand. This will help prevent confusion and will bring needed clarity.

Offer Examples

Provide examples, positive or negative, of the situation. This will help the staff member anchor why the meeting is taking place. This will also provide an opportunity for them to offer their ideas and solutions.

Listen to the Person

Listen to the other person. In doing so, you may hear a perspective you did not consider when you made your initial assessment.

Come to a Shared Agreement

Remember to listen to the leasing staff member and allow them to offer their potential solutions and you can then share your solutions. From here, you can come together with a shared agreement of how to move forward.

When Talking to Someone Who Tends to Cry

The crying reaction can make it easy for you to get flustered. Remember that you are not trying to be mean, rather help them be more successful. Stay focused on delivering the core message – the message is the message! Below are some tips to navigate feedback with a more sensitive employee:

* Offer feedback at the end of the day.
* Acknowledge their emotion.
* If necessary, meet again after the person can calm down.
* Remind them that you are there to help them.
* Try saying something like, “I can see that you are upset and I understand this may be difficult.”

If tears come up for a team member for whom it is out of character, this is a sign that something else may be wrong. Point out it is not like them and allow them to talk to you and tell you what is going on with them. Be quiet and listen to their response.

When Talking to Someone Who Yells

Do not feel intimidated or back down; remember the message is the message, regardless of how they respond. Avoid yelling back as doing so can allow the situation to get out of hand. In addition, yelling reinforces their notion that you were out to get them. Do not respond to yelling with yelling. Instead, use the tips below:

* Stay calm and stand your ground.
* Be willing to shut down a meeting.
* Use a neutral voice.
* Try using wording such as, “I need to have a conversation with you.” Or, “I need for you to lower your voice.”
* If that doesn’t work you can try, “I need for you to take a deep breath or we will need to reschedule.” Or, “This is not constructive.”

Sometimes you will encounter the “I’m So Passionate, I Can’t Help It” excuse. This person tends to know they are out of control. In these cases, you can say things like, “I’m sorry this upsets you; it is important to me, too.” “Let’s find some common ground here.” “I’m happy to hear you say that, but I would like to see you express your verbal passion into your work.”

When Talking to Someone Who Gets Defensive

The Defensive Reaction: This person has a reason or explanation for everything! These can be some of the toughest people to handle over time! Be sure to stand your ground. If they try to shift the blame to someone else, ask them to explain the situation. That may be a way for them to avoid constructive criticism or conversation, so bring it back to the center.

Be mindful not to get defensive in return. Avoid phrases like, “You have misunderstood” or “You’ve got it all wrong”. Both of those are designed to avoid your own constructive conversation!

Below are some tips to help when interacting with a defensive person:

* When appropriate, call the person out on not listening.
* Try saying, “I see this as your responsibility; let’s talk about why you don’t see it this way.”
* You can also say, “When you blame someone else, you become the victim, which isn’t helpful to you.”

How to Address a Recurring Response

The recurring response: this is a person who typically reacts in the same way. The person may yell or cry, but you must still address the situation. This person will always have a similar reaction every time you talk, so address this head on; do not avoid the situation. Some tips to help you move forward with a recurring response:

* You can say, “I notice every time we sit down to talk, you get (upset, angry, defensive). I have your best interests at heart. How can I help you be more open to feedback?”
* Try saying, “Here’s what I need from you as a fellow professional.”
* Don’t stew or let the typical reaction discourage you from giving the necessary feedback.

Bonus Tip: Give feedback as things come up. Doing it this way ends up being more easily managed.

The main goal is to handle feedback in a calm, but timely manner. Your goal is to stay centered and grounded as a manager as you work for the success and growth of your team. Do not be afraid to offer constructive feedback to your team, as it is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Presented by:

Susan E. Weston, CAM CAPS, NAAEI Senior Faculty
The Susan Weston Company