I just wanted to share a personal experience I had on giving feedback on personal hygiene. I think we can all learn from it.
In my professional life I have had my fair share of having to manage people with poor hygiene and I always give feedback. Denying them feedback is denying them an opportunity to develop, I won’t do that.
I once gave a lady I was interviewing feedback about mouth odour. She came into the interview and I literally couldn’t breathe.
How the feedback is given really matters. I started the feedback by saying, ‘Please don’t be offended but are you fasting?’ She replied that she was and I gave her a pep talk on how it happens sometimes when people haven’t had anything to eat as it was afternoon. She thanked me profusely, almost kneeling down in gratitude.
My driver of 8 years, I gave him feedback and bought him soap deodorant and antiperspirant when I realised the cost implications of good hygiene.
Needless to say, I have also had not so great feedback sessions. Infact in one example, the candidate called my colleague crying saying how upset she was by our conversation even though I felt I was being honest and open with her. I felt bad as that was not my intention at all.
My point is two things. Approach really matters, leave people with their dignity intact, it always helps. Secondly, you can’t win with some people, whatever your approach they will take it personal, be cafeful as your best intentions can be misinterpreted.
Below is a message sent to me sometime last year by someone in this group. It happened about 6 years ago yet the experience is still vivid in her mind. This goes to show how much such experiences can negatively impact people. In this example she didn’t accept our offer because she was embarrassed by how she was initially treated. Whereas she still remembers the understanding shown to her as I still gave her feedback and offered her the job.
I am no saint, sometimes I have gotten it right and sometimes wrong, the most important thing is that we are improving and making progress.