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From WIIFT Thread: How to Deliver Critical But Valuable Feedback to the Hospital?

Continuing from the Thread What's In It For Them Guys, WIIFT, Post #36 on Trojan Horse Value
We had an interesting discussion on social exchange manipulation.
Lucio mentioned the ethical side of whether to give feedback too which I found particularly meaningful.

I wanted to open a new thread to talk about how to deliver the feedback.
I have been quite interested in sharpening my feedback delivery skills too.

Context: Social Exchange Manipulation by Hospital

To recap & summarise the context, the hospital used lots of social exchange manipulation in a letter to Ali to encourage donation.
The bait and switch of the false gift were particularly deceitful.
Here was the photo of the letter hinting at a free gift but there was no free gift:

Ethics -  Whether To Deliver Feedback?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 27, 2021, 5:47 pm

I think that in many ways, this is an ethical question.

The question to me is:

Are you willing to take a personal risk, to deliver what's potentially valuable?

Of course, this is not to say that you should necessarily take that risk.
Or even that it's a good thing -in many situations, it's probably a waste of your time with little added value to the receiver-.

But that's the question.

My rule of thumb though is "if I care about this person/institution, and if there are reasonable chances they'll gain from it, I'm inclined to go for it". Still doesn't mean I necessarily will, as I might just too be busy at that time.

On the other hand, I think one should also not let fear govern them.
The way I see it, if you want to achieve almost anything at scale while speaking your mind, some escalations and mud slinging along the way are part of the journey.

I am on the same page as Lucio here.
There is a large degree of ethics on whether to deliver the feedback.
If this person/institution in this case a hospital aligns with your priorities and is something you care about, it is meaningful and value-adding to deliver the feedback.

Personally, I feel that the charity drive is a meaningful and value-adding initiative for the larger society.
As such, I would feel inclined to deliver the feedback too.

Risks of Delivering the Feedback

There are a few risks of delivering the feedback.
It also depends on the channel of delivery: email, calling, in-person.

Some possible risks are

  1. Some people get angry and possibly adversaries
  2. The hospital sues
  3. Someone takes your written feedback and spins the content in a way to smear you

I think getting a lawsuit is unlikely.
Getting some people angry is okay.

In my personal opinion, the concern could be someone decides to attack back.
Though I believe the chances are low because most people would not like to blow things up.
That would be bad public relations.

What is the Best Way to Deliver the Feedback?

I'm thinking that the main objectives while delivering the feedback are

  • Getting the main message across
  • Phrasing the feedback in a way that would maximise receptiveness (challenging to know who exactly will read it)
  • Prevent any potential downsides if the feedback is taken negatively

Methods of Delivery

I think there are a lot of ways to deliver the feedback as we discussed briefly on the other thread:

  • Giving a call directly to the relevant person or department
  • Dropping an email containing all the details of the feedback including your name
  • Dropping an email to set up a call, video conference or in-person meeting
  • Going down in-person to a department for feedback if there is one
  • Dropping an anonymous email

Which to Choose?

I am not exactly sure what's the best way to deliver this feedback.
Because I'm guessing you would not know exactly who would receive the feedback.

I think dropping an email with all the details would be a time-saving option.
Potentially, it's excellent if it lands into the hands of a senior executive who cares deeply about the hospital in general.

Getting on a call would be good because you can gauge the reaction of the recipient and decide how much to share depending on the receptiveness.
Possibly, you may build rapport through the phone call too.
But it could be challenging and time-consuming to get through a call with an executive who needs to hear the feedback.

Lucio Buffalmano and Ali Scarlett have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli Scarlett

Another option that saves time:

  • Link to what you've already written

That also helps to keep the email shorter, which often helps.


EMAIL TEMPLATE

Hi,

I'm XYZ, a happy donor to your cause (win-win from the beginning with "happy" + plus self-frame as a giver who's already given and, implied, potentially will give more. All very attention grabbing and positively high power).

You're doing great work / God's work, which is why I've originally chosen you guys for my donations.
Thank you for the positive impact that you bring to the world.

(build-up, so it won't come across as overly critical with what you're about to deliver, plus breaks the flow of self-referential "I, I, I" in the email)

Professionally, I happen to work in people-facing roles and one of my passions is the study of social dynamics, including how to become more effective communicators.

(build your credential in a non-braggin way. It's not "I'm great at this", but more like "I grew my expertise with work and personal passion". Plus potentially piques their interest: who's not interested in being more effective with others?)

Now the difficult part.

Please allow me the freedom of full honesty here:

I was very happy to receive your last mail but, frankly, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

(this is the "boom" part. Their heart are racing, now they're glued to the screen. If they have a growth mindset and an antifragile ego, you'll likely bring the positive change)

And I personally fear that it might be the same for many other donors in my same position.

(double doses)

So I prepared this feedback for you on a forum in which I am personally active, where I learned a lot, and where we study exactly how to influence people for the better (after you build up yourself, build-up the forum to increase the likelihood of click-through) :

LINK.

I am aware that such honest feedback sometimes can be hard-hitting.
Please know that I wrote that with the best intentions in mind.

(prevent possible blowback - part I)

If it's helpful to you, I'm happy.
And I'll also be happy for having contributed to the children's cause with more than just money (a bit of preventive power move: "I'm a giver here, keep that in mind before you you get angry: I've already given money to you, and now I'm trying to give you even more).

If not, all good as before (often a good way to end up this way, it takes the pressure off and makes it all seem "chiller").

Cheers,

XYZ

Edit:
Typos and some improvements

Ali Scarlett and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I woke up this morning to this excellent template.
Thanks a lot Lucio for taking the time to write this.

On another note, I'm thinking that this strategy of writing your detailed notes on another document works well in a few other cases too.
The email serves to give an outline of the context and signals to the receiver that if you have time, you can take a look at the relevant links.
You avoid tossing all the details into the recipient's face.

One thing that comes to mind is the sandwich technique.

Sandwich Technique of Delivering Feedback

This email uses the sandwich technique of giving feedback.
Some people say it's not effective in setting up the delivery of the main, critical portion of the feedback.
However, I think it's because people don't employ it well.

When It Doesn't Work Well

In my opinion, the issue is sincerity.
The mistake comes from delivering positive platitudes that don't set up any relevant context.
Often, the praise does not sound genuine.
The lack of relevance makes people gloss over your praise knowing that the critical feedback is incoming.

When It Works Well

What works well is when it contains the following elements:
(referencing Lucio's examples in the sub-bullet points)

  • Setting up the win-win context of the relationship
    • A happy donor to your cause
  • Why you value the relationship - Signals future intentions of giving more
    • I believe that your cause is value-adding and I believe in the course
  • What you have given to the relationship - Shows your social capital and power
    • Highlighting that you are a current donor
  • Put Credentials/Skills That Would Add Value to the Relationship - Signals your expertise and also potential, future value to the table
    • Show passion because passionate people tend to share value with others and even have a charisma about the purpose on what they are doing
    • Bragging is more about displaying your status and power

The purpose of these 4 points is to frame yourself as a value-adding person who cares about a win-win relationship with the other party.
Then the critical feedback fits in a way that indirectly says

I am delivering this feedback because I think it's value-adding to you and our relationship.
Not because I want to attack your reputation or gain leverage over you.

This is what is often missed out in the sandwich method.
Irrelevant praises miss out on these key dynamics before the critical feedback is delivered.
The intention may be there but it's not smooth.


Relevant Books

In the Art of People under Poor Example of Sandwich technique, the article links to the book Thanks for the Feedback for a better framework of the sandwich technique. However, I don't seem to find anything about the sandwich technique under the review of Thanks for the Feedback. I think the book mainly focuses on how to receive feedback.

I managed to find a link to an example of great feedback through the review of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends & Influence People, Principle 1: Begin With Praise & Honest Appreciation.
The review of Chapter 6: Disruptive Engagement of Daring Greatly contains a good example of giving feedback.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 28, 2021, 6:26 pm

EMAIL TEMPLATE

Hi,

I'm XYZ, a happy donor to your cause (win-win from the beginning with "happy" + plus self-frame as a giver who's already given and, implied, potentially will give more. All very attention grabbing and positively high power).

You're doing great work / God's work, which is why I've originally chosen you guys for my donations.
Thank you for the positive impact that you bring to the world.

(build-up, so it won't come across as overly critical with what you're about to deliver, plus breaks the flow of self-referential "I, I, I" in the email)

Professionally, I happen to work in people-facing roles and one of my passions is the study of social dynamics, including how to become more effective communicators.

(build your credential in a non-braggin way. It's not "I'm great at this", but more like "I grew my expertise with work and personal passion". Plus potentially piques their interest: who's not interested in being more effective with others?)

Now the difficult part.

Please allow me the freedom of full honesty here:

I was very happy to receive your last mail but, frankly, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

(this is the "boom" part. Their heart are racing, now they're glued to the screen. If they have a growth mindset and an antifragile ego, you'll likely bring the positive change)

And I personally fear that it might be the same for many other donors in my same position.

(double doses)

So I prepared this feedback for you on a forum in which I am personally active, where I learned a lot, and where we study exactly how to influence people for the better (after you build up yourself, build-up the forum to increase the likelihood of click-through) :

LINK.

I am aware that such honest feedback sometimes can be hard-hitting.
Please know that I wrote that with the best intentions in mind.

(prevent possible blowback - part I)

If it's helpful to you, I'm happy.
And I'll also be happy for having contributed to the children's cause with more than just money (a bit of preventive power move: "I'm a giver here, keep that in mind before you you get angry: I've already given money to you, and now I'm trying to give you even more).

If not, all good as before (often a good way to end up this way, it takes the pressure off and makes it all seem "chiller").

Cheers,

XYZ

Update I later thought of:

You're doing great work / God's work, which is why I've originally chosen you guys for my donations.
Thank you for the positive impact that you bring to the world.

Depending on who I'm writing to, I might skip this part.

If they're very junior, it's an overkill: they're not doing all that, so it can feel disingenuous.

And if the receiver is a high power individual, it can come across as too judge-y and disempowering for them.

Like "who the hell is this guy to tell me how I'm doing? And like should I feel grateful now that he was so kind to pick us?".

There ways to convey the same message though while being power-protecting to higher-ups, and uplifting to junior employees as well.

Ali Scarlett and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?