It’s not a simple task to working through a 360 report with someone. It can be like holding up a mirror – but they don’t always like the reflection they see. Usually people are interested to see how others have scored them and despite some initial apprehension, approach the report with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
Now and again, though, I come across someone who would rather deny the whole report than face the consequences, despite the fact that the information comes from many different sources. They might present themselves in different ways; sometimes they launch into a detailed explanation of the politics that are against them, or blame individuals for having an agenda that maligns them. At other times, they pay the report lip service, ask no questions and try and to get the feedback meeting over as soon as possible. You can just tell that they are not absorbing anything you talk about. They also might try to deflect the conversation, wanting to enthusiastically discuss the economy or the company’s strategy – anything that keeps you off the topic at hand.
Here are some tips to bear in mind if you find yourself faced with denial:
- Remember that the change curve starts with shock. It may be an emotional response that will pass.
- Don’t be drawn into distractions. Keep on topic, let them know you have heard what they say and return to the topic at hand.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Give them time to think and come to terms with the information. If they go off at tangent, repeat your question or statement and wait again.
- Learn some questioning techniques that will help you challenge them effectively. For example, “You say xxx, but I see yyyy”.
- Reiterate the purpose of the meeting in positive terms. Don’t be afraid to ask for their participation, or say if you don’t think you’re getting it.
- You might be able to get them into the right thinking space by using phrases like. “If this were true, what would the consequences be?”
Often we only have one opportunity to have a feedback meeting, but if you feel that the time is not being well spent, consider setting a new time and give the person specific preparation to do – then check that they have before you meet them.