We use the word CareFrontation to describe the art of delivering constructive, compassionate feedback to individuals or to an entire group, to expose ineffective behavior and to explore alternatives to that behavior.
CareFrontation consists of the truth, as we see it in the moment. Each participant retains the right to refuse it. The feedback is packaged with caring and love, delivered in a way that you would like to receive such feedback. In short, we view CareFrontation as supremely empathetic confrontation. Consequently, CareFrontation should be used only within a group that has previously agreed to enhance their individual and collective processes. In other words, CareFrontation would be used primarily in a developmental facilitation mode, and may be delivered by either the facilitator to a participant, or among the participants themselves. CareFrontation offers group members opportunities to build more effective relationships with one another and with life.
What CareFrontation is not. CareFrontation is not harsh or unfeeling, as this creates a climate that inhibits the desire to address change. CareFrontation is not delivered to attack someone. The participant’s vulnerability should be considered at all times, so that when we communicate feedback, it is delivered compassionately, with the intention to support and uplift, and couched as simply our perspective, versus an absolute fact.
When do you CareFront? Offering useful feedback or CareFrontation almost requires a sixth sense. It means watching body language, listening between the lines, and intuitively knowing when to encourage a participant to step “outside their box” and when to back off. Feedback must be delivered in real-time, because if behavior is left unaddressed too long, it is difficult to recapture and recall accurately. You should CareFront participants only when they are open and receptive to it. They must retain the right to refuse feedback. So before you offer feedback to a participant, ask them, “May I CareFront you?” Or, “May I offer you some feedback?” If the answer is “NO” then honor that response.
Effective behaviors can also be reinforced. Bombardment with honest feedback, whether it is perceived as corrective or reinforcing, helps create healthy relationships. Some might call this approach TOUGH LOVE. It is amazing how CareFrontation, used consistently and appropriately, begins to foster the kind of trust in an individual, which will encourage that individual to seek out the CareFronter for more feedback!
How do you CAREfront?
When participants are open to receiving feedback, deliver it in a neutral tone as your observation of behavior without judgment. For example, suppose that in a teamwork exercise, a participant has his arms folded and angrily detaches himself from the group.
The facilitator might ask, “May I share an observation with you Fred?”
If Fred agrees, the facilitator would continue by saying something like, “I just saw you step back from the group with your arms folded when the group was struggling to solve a problem and needed the help of all group members. What was happening for you at that point?”
Fred might come back with any number of responses but suppose he said, “Nobody was listening to me!” The facilitator might respond with, “Did your behavior get you what you wanted?”
Discussion would continue hopefully to the point where the facilitator would encourage the participant to try a new behavior the next time he is feeling unheard. Perhaps he will agree to use an “I” statement to the group, such as, “I’m really feeling unheard right now. Is anyone else feeling this way?” Statements of truth like this can move a dysfunctional team to a highly functional team over time if this is in fact their goal.
Basic Steps to CareFrontation
- Make the CareFrontation Process an operating agreement.
- Ask for permission to CareFront or deliver feedback.
- Point out the observable facts.
- Inquire into the meaning of the behavior.
- If the behavior impacted you adversely, share how it affected you.
- Make a request or ask a question.
Your assignment this week is to practice CareFronting someone about something. This can be something that consistently bothers you about someone you know, or something that just shows up on the spur of the moment. You know the moment I’m talking about. It’s when you get that little signal inside that begs for action but that you ignore because you want to be polite, politically correct, safe, nice, etc. I’m interested in hearing what happens for you. Please share your thoughts, stories, and experiences around this topic in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!