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Episode 91 - 2 Jul 2021

Feedback: What To Do When It Goes Wrong?

This episode of the Church Leadership Podcast is part two on the topic of giving and receiving feedback. John McGee and Caitlin Van Wagoner discuss what to do when giving feedback goes poorly. Download the Principles For Feedback PDF Resource at

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Episode Summary

5 Principles for When Feedback Goes Wrong

  • Recognize when conversation drifts. When the conversation you are having is not the conversation you intended to have, do not hesitate to pause or redirect the conversation back to your intended topic. As the giver of feedback, remember to not burden the person you are talking to with an overwhelming amount of feedback. Keep the main thing the main thing.
  • Don't be afraid to call a time out. If emotions rise or someone becomes frustrated, consider just taking a break, either for a few minutes or even a whole day. If someone grows too defensive, listening to feedback becomes an impossibility. Taking a time out can prevent fighting or divisiveness.
  • Widen the circle next time. If at first feedback goes poorly, the next time feedback needs to occur you can invite a neutral third party to help facilitate the conversation and translate between parties. Widening the circle needs to be telegraphed beforehand, but doing so can be helpful in righting wrongs. Make sure to not surprise someone by widening the circle unexpectedly or by only ever inviting those in positions of authority.
  • Make Sure You Resolve Relational Hurt. After difficult conversations or giving feedback, there will occasionally be times when significant relational hurt occurs and where this relational hurt impedes the working relationship. In these situations you need to prioritize making that relationship right. However, remember to play the long game. Understand that relational hurt is not immediately fixed and may require significant investment and intentionality.
  • Realize You Are Learning. Don't get discouraged when feedback goes poorly. Whatever the circumstance, you are going to learn more about yourself, the other person, and what to do better next time. Ask questions like, "What could I have done next time to make this process easier.

Download the Principles of Feedback resource:

Hosted By
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John McGee

Sr. Director of Watermark Resources

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Adam Tarnow

Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast