By Donna Dunning
Usually, the advice given for offering feedback is to be direct, describe specific behaviors, and to give concrete examples.
When discussing personality type differences and giving and receiving feedback, a common topic that arises is the use of indirect comments and suggestions. Through these discussions I am learning that people respond differently to indirect comments.
You might want to…
I ask groups how they respond when someone says “You might want to change…” or even “You should (or could) change…”. Many times people who have a Feeling preference tell me they hear these comments as directive and that they would respond by making the change.
However, people who prefer Thinking often comment that they hear these phrases as optional feedback. They will consider what is said and may or may not decide to make a change.
Usually this starts an engaging discussion about how feedback is offered and accepted. It seems those who prefer Feeling like the softer tone of the “you might” to the direct “change this” feedback. However, when they give feedback this way to others they risk having their feedback ignored.
I personally respond well to suggestions. I prefer softer rather than commanding comments. Since, of course, we tend to offer feedback the same way we prefer to receive it, at home, I would use this same approach on my son (ISTJ preferences).
However, I was unlikely to see action when mentioning to my son, “It would be nice if you would help today by doing the dishes.” To get action it was better to say, “Please do the dishes today by 5 before I start supper.”
As he got older and we started to talk about our communication, he told me that he would basically ignore the “You might want to…” kind of comments. To him these were suggestions, not requests.
There I was, trying to be diplomatic, but actually becoming frustrated when he wasn’t jumping into action.
Do you tend to give and respond to direct requests or indirect suggestions? Do you see a link between personality type preferences and people’s responses? Any good stories or examples you can share with readers?
If you are looking for ideas on how to communicate more effectively, Introduction to Type and Communication helps you understand communication preferences.
If you live in the USA, Introduction to Type and Communication is now available on Kindle.
The images for this series on personality type concepts are from a recent visit to the Butterfly Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia.