Q: I have been closely observing one of my managers’ behaviour for some time now. It is very sad for me to see how he is deteriorating in both his personal appearance, outlook towards life and even in his work. Once known as the best performer in the organisation, he has now become one of the worst around. From one who used to set high standards in his work and expectations on others, he is now a “couldn’t-care-less” person who just let everyone goes. No more standards and no more expectations. Judging from his remarks, comments and scruffy fat appearance, everyone knows that he is on the downhill. I also notice that he shuns himself away from people, and keeps a lot to himself. I am probably the only one whom he chats with occasionally, but this does not go beyond ten minutes. Each time I try to talk with him, he either brushes me aside or simply avoids talking about it. What can I do to really help him?
Good Samaritan

A: One thing I pick up from your description is that this person used to be a perfectionist but is now a scruffy one. It really does tell a lot about him. He is certainly undergoing deep depression. One possible reason is that he wanted to attain a perfect state in everything he does and that everything else comes second fiddle to his goal. However, for some hidden reasons, his formula was not working to his expectations, so things begun to tumble so much to the extent that he could not cope with them anymore. Thus, the logical thing to do is to give up. This probably explains his spiraling down all the way into deep depression.

The Bottom Line: This person needs some form of intervention either in counselling, coaching and even medical treatment. Left too long in his current state can lead to even more undesirable consequences; even suicide cannot be ruled out. Unless, you are professionally trained in one of these disciplines, it is unlikely you can help him. The best you can do is to persuade him to seek professional help to either get him out of this or to assess the seriousness of this neurosis. Even persuading him to change his work environment and his job functions can be of added help to him. On the social front, continue to make him feel wanted; so do not get put off by his ways but give him the attention and show him that you truly care and that he is very important to you. For all these measures, handle them delicately and tactfully.

Powerful Questions: How important is this person in your life that you want to do something more for him? What are you prepared to do for him? What are the qualities and values in you that will ensure you get some good results for him? What will it feel like when you succeed?

Q: Many times I have wanted to give feedback to some colleagues in the way they carry themselves in public. However, this intention cannot be converted into doable action because among the many reasons, I fear a backlash of a favour turning into a disfavour that may sour our relationship instead of making it better for us. I hear so many stories of how ugly things have been after a genuine feedback conversation and I have developed a phobia for doing this. However, deep in my heart, I know it is right that my good friends should know how they are performing as much as I do. Indeed am in a crossroad. What shall I do?

A: You need to genuinely ask yourself what your real intention is; whether they should know of your personal viewpoint, a criticism that you want to level at them or a sincere deed with no other agenda in it. Never underestimate the recipient in knowing what the real intention is as it is laden in your words, facial expression, emotional state and other body language cues. This explains why things get soured as in many cases they were not genuinely given from the heart.

The Bottom Line: Sincerity is the most important success factor in feedback giving. The other one is to find the best time to do it. When both are operating in a stable emotional state, there is greater receptivity and lesser chance of miscommunication. A cool head is always better than a “hot” one in such circumstances. Also, do not jump into telling them the negative things alone, as there should be good things that you can share to encourage and compliment the person. Be as “balanced” as possible. See the goodness in people. Finally, always check to find out their views on what you have said and be prepared to accept disagreement willingly too.

Powerful Questions: What does giving feedback gives you and the other person? When you do it with success, how does it serve both of you? What do you need to remember always, when giving feedback? How will you want others to do when they give feedback to you?

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