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Giving Feedback with Gender Intelligence

Giving Feedback with Gender Intelligence

Update: 2021-06-16


Paul and Barbara kick off the podcast with a discussion about the quote “feedback is the breakfast of champions,” a quote by author Ken Blanchard in his groundbreaking book “One Minute Manager,” and co-authored by Spencer Johnson MD. 

Barbara describes giving feedback as one of the biggest challenges, particularly between men and women. She says men often find they have to be cautious in giving women sensitive feedback. Research shows that women want the ‘straight goods’ in feedback, but men are often uncomfortable if the feedback is met with an emotional response. 

Barbara shared a story about a woman who was unsuccessful in becoming a partner in a law firm, despite meeting all the metrics for being promoted. Later, she was infuriated to receive the feedback third hand. She eventually left the firm and became a partner in a competing firm. It’s an all-too common theme, and research shows men often feel they have to be more careful in giving women feedback.

Paul and Barbara discussed a PowerPoint deck which was part of a workshop Barbara delivered on “Pathways to Inclusion: Giving and Receiving Feedback.”  Barbara described two important components of the workshop that led to a breakthrough for the client. She provided them with insight on the science of brain differences between women and men, and a set of tools for overcoming challenges. She believes that one important key is for men to be empowered to sponsor and mentor women.

Studies show that 42% of men find it difficult to receive sensitive feedback. Barbara says the first step is to be straightforward, not vague with feedback. She says men prefer getting guidance on what specifically they can do to improve. She adds that it’s always best to ‘declare your intentions’ from the start, to ensure the feedback is seen as a positive and constructive way to perform better at work.

Paul reflected on the statistics that show 64% of women find it difficult receiving sensitive feedback, though at the same time, 82% of women say they want more feedback. Barbara explained that part of the reason for that is that the hippocampus (memory centre) is larger in women’s brains. Women tend to remember a bad experience they had in receiving feedback.

Barbara says men who want to improve at giving feedback to women should remember one important fact. “Women are their own worst critic. We ruminate and scrutinize ourselves all the time,” she says. On the other hand, for men, they sometimes need to step back, reflect on feedback, and replenish their testosterone. For both men and women, the key is validation. 

Link to “Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business” by Barbara Annis and John Gray PhD:

Link to the book ‘One Minute Manager’ by Ken Blanchard Phd and Spencer Johnson MD









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Giving Feedback with Gender Intelligence

Giving Feedback with Gender Intelligence

Barbara Annis, Paul Colligan