Curious Question Round One: Your Control vs. Their Control

by | Mar 23, 2023

Happy Thursday!

Today we’re shaking things up a bit in the newsletter world. I’ve taken to asking the teams I work with to write down a curious question at the end of our time together. This idea was inspired by Chad Littlefield, a master of connnection himself. 

As our time comes to a close during a workshop, I encourage participants to write down a question about something they are curious about. When it’s time for Q&A, guess what? They are now prepared with an on-point question. 

AND, now as a special feature, when it’s time for me to write my weekly letter to you all, I now have a whole bevy of questions to answer. In reading over a whole lot of curious questions, I’ve noticed a few themes. I’m thinking my answers for Alyssa and Christine will be helpful to you, too. 

Today we’re tackling two questions. 

How can you give feedback without the person taking it personally and gossiping with other coworkers?

What if their attitude or body language is negative after the invitation for the conversion?

The answers to these questions fall in two columns: things we can control, and things we can’t. What can we control? Thoughtfully preparing, practicing, and planning our feedback conversations so they are as well-intentioned and productive as possible. (I may have a framework and model that can help with that. 😉)

We can control our tone: thoughtful, caring, and curious. 

We can control our word choice: objective, affirmative, and direct. 

We can control asking vs. telling. Hint: ask more, talk less. 

We can control our message by tying it to a business-related impact so it’s not some random off-the-wall topic that has no relation to their job performance. 

What we can’t control: their response. Their emotions. Their reaction. 

What if their attitude or body language IS negative after the invitation for the conversation?

Maybe they’ve gotten some harsh feedback delivered poorly before and their defenses go up from a prior experience. (Imagine that! Bad feedback delivery!) Maybe they need time to process. So they respond with a bad attitude. That’s got nothing to do with you. 

Your opportunity? To reassure them with a welcoming invitation to the conversation and let them know this time the conversation might be different…and then let it go. 

What if they have an overly emotional response, get defensive, get angry, cry, or lash out? Your responsibility and control are in the delivery. You are not responsible for other people’s emotions. They are responsible for choosing their response. 

Maybe they’ll choose to take it personally.

Maybe they’ll choose to go and gossip. 

Maybe they’ll choose a response that you don’t agree with. 

The key here is for you to control what you are responsible for controlling. As for the rest?

Don’t take it personally. 



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