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Put down your sandwich. I need to give you some feedback.

This is it – the third (but definitely not last) myth in my series “Feedback Myths: What we think is helpful, but isn’t really helping.”

Last week I busted the myth that good feedback strategy only applies to improvements. If you’ve ever heard the advice: only give feedback in the moment. This one’s for you.

Myth Bust #3:
“In the moment” isn’t always the best time for feedback.

Ok – I’ll preface this by saying sooner is always better, but sooner doesn’t always mean right now. This goes especially for feedback aimed at improvement or sustainment. When it comes to giving feedback effectively and improving the odds that it’s received and acted upon, the “in the moment” rule get a little less… rule-y.

Remember the first myth I busted about the difference between constructive criticism and feedback? Well, the way we react to anything even remotely threatening to our ego takes a turn for the worse when our brains are in certain states. When that’s happening it’s NOT A GOOD TIME FOR FEEDBACK.

There’s a quick and easy acronym called HALT that’s mainly used for self-diagnoses, but can be flipped on its side to help you determine whether your feedback timing is “spot on” or “no go.” Just run through it before you rush in head first (ouch):

  • Hungry
    When someone needs a Snickers, that’s about the last time you want to spring a “can I give you some feedback” conversation.
  • Angry
    When your feedback recipient is angry it’s very difficult to have a productive conversation. This is why I even take is as far as to say: go to bed angry and fix it in the morning.Anger + Feedback = Not a great situation.
  • Lonely
    Lonely can also be sad, down or depressed. Now, you’ll have to use discretion to make sure an employee or teammate isn’t deflecting from the situation, but erring on the side of compassion is almost always the way to go.
  • Tired
    When you get tired the nice, controlled part of your brain (the one that I sometimes call my “filter”) is the first to turn off. Tired – 1. Feedback – 0.

Feedback, if practiced and intentional, can be one of your most powerful tools in the workplace (and outside of it as well), but that’s just it… you have to practice!

If you want to learn more about giving (and receiving) feedback effectively, check out our Get Real workshop!

Amber Barnes
Amber Barnes
Amber is a leadership development professional with a heart for helping leaders maximize human performance in the workplace (and beyond.) With over a decade of experience coaching, training and advising leaders, she writes to helps leaders become more effective. Amber highlights common pitfalls, effective (and human) leadership practices as well as "must-knows" for leaders.