Hi Manager Tools, 

I have a direct who pushes back on the feedback 'cause'. They do not dispute the wrongdoing, but they dispute the cause that it has. 

For example: Me: John, when you are late to meetings, it causes us to repeat things for you and takes up valuable time. What can you do differently?

John: Dont repeat things, I'll catch on and catch up from the folks that are in the meeting. 

It puts me in a difficult spot because now the focus is on arguing the causes vs improving the behavior. Do I need to give feedback about how he is responding to feedback? Is there a cast for this? There are other situations where I've been confronted on the 'cause' but not the behavior itself. 

Any and all help is appreciated! 

Kevin1's picture


Next time

  • John, when you are late to meetings, you aren't as effective while you are catching up on what you missed.   Can you be on time?
  • John, when you are late to meetings, you miss some oppertunities to contribute.   Can you be on time?

Listen to shot across the bow and there is no why in feedback.  You don't care about being right and winning some argument that they want to have.  You only care about whether they change.

If they continue this resistance, 

  • John, when you argue when receiving feedback, it makes me wonder if you are interested in continue improvement.   Can you change that?

Good luck,


pucciot's picture
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I have found this difficult as well.

??? ** How can we do FeedBack in a way that does not come off as Self-Referencing and Self-Centered ? ****


Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with a "this is what happens..." that doesn't sound arbitrary and subjective.

Often it seems to come down to "_I_ don't like it"   


I have had directs disagree with me about my evaluation of the negative effect/impact of thier action.

I say crossing your arms is often interpreted as being closed minded.  They say - "No it isn't.  Maybe that is for you -- but not everybody interprets that way".


I say some behavior is ineffective in the the office, and they say I am wrong about that, that their behavior is common in many places and works well for lots of people.


-- Often is seems to come down to me wanting to say

" Because I'm the Boss, and I want things done around her in the way I think is most effective.  And my evaluation of your performance is what matters around here ! "

It seems to me that FeedBack in these situations is just to annoy the direct into complying.   They don't want to hear my Feedback anymore.   They completely disagree with my evaluation of their behavior and its effects ... but they will comply just to stop my FeedBack nagging.


??? ** How can we do FeedBack in a way that does not come off as Self-Referencing and Self-Centered ? ****


How can I be sure that I am not just making this up and I am wrong about negative impact ?


Kevin1's picture

Hi TJ,

It sounds like you are making being right, or having the direct agree with you the objective.   If the objective is encouraging desirable future behaviour, do you really care if the direct agrees with you or is it OK for them to disagree so long as they change their behavior for the better next time?

In shot across the bow podcast, MT's guidance is don't argue, smile, diffuse the disagreement and walk away.   

To address your point, I would think about the words to say when giving feedback very carefully.  Try to find words that convey what you are trying to say without leaving much scope for disagreement.

Perhaps something like 'crossing your arms could be interpreted by some people as being closed minded, and I'd like to see the perception of you growing as a collaborative team player.  Can you do that differently next time?'

If they still want to argue, 'no it isn't' or any other such comeback, smile, say 'i haven't considered that' and walk away. Or smile, say 'i f I were you, I'd think that too' and walk away.   (I actually like that second one a lot)

Hope that helps a bit.




pucciot's picture
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Kev :

I think you may have misunderstood my previous point/question.

You are right -- the change in behavior is the Goal.

I would think that it would be best if the Direct does agree with with the Feed Back.  It would get better energy applied to it.

** At some point a Manager does have to have some personal internal confidence that the FeedBack is based on reality and that behavior that s/he wants is the best Behavior for the organization. 

My point was that if a Direct disagrees, that Feedback comes down to nagging them.

It comes down to telling them that, even if they disagree, that what the manager says is the effect is what is important.

That what behavior the manager wants is what is important.


It comes down to the direct who disagrees deciding whether they want to tolerate the nagging or make a change in behavior just to get the boss to stop nagging them.

I have a direct who disagrees with me.

I have told him that I have made my expectations clear (he confirmed that my expectations are clear to him).  He just flat told me that he disagrees with how I want him to behave and that my projected outcomes are not based in reality.

I have told him that as much as I would like to have it that I don't need his agreement and that he only has to make his own decision to meet my expectations or not.

I stay firm and continuously make my expectations clear.   Eventually he complies with the most minimum and basic level compliance to my expectation.  Until the next, 6 months, when we rinse and repeat.

The truth that I have come to is that if a Direct disagrees with the FeedBack, that things still come down to Role Power.  And the Boss is still the Boss, and the behavior that the Boss wants, right or wrong, is the behavior s/he should get.