21

Context:

My new manager came three or four times telling me something similar to:

This customer gave a good feedback on your work.

I usually reply with a "Thanks" or "I'm glad they appreciated". Then we look each other for 5 seconds, saying nothing, until my manager leaves.

Question:

During these 5 seconds - which seem very long - I feel like the manager expects me to say something else, but I have no idea what...

What can I do to defuse this awkward situation?

closed as off-topic by Tinkeringbell, curiousdannii, sphennings, Jess K., Magisch Apr 10 '18 at 13:09

  • This question does not appear to be about interpersonal skills, within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    The logical first step would be asking your coworkers how they deal with that situation since they are the ones most qualified to help you, not so much strangers on the net. People here don't know the guy, don't know you, don't know the situation at your work and can offer very general help at best. I take it this is not an option? – Raditz_35 Apr 9 '18 at 12:38
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions asking for us what to say are off-topic, see the help center for more explanation. – Tinkeringbell Apr 9 '18 at 14:40
  • 4
    I feel as though we really ought to be able to shape this into an on-topic question, given that the OP is essentially asking about how to manage 'The Awkward Silence'... Would it be sufficient to change the question to 'what IP Skills or techniques can I use to minimise the social awkwardness for myself and my boss?' – Spagirl Apr 9 '18 at 15:08
  • @Spagirl that'd probably make it a list-type question, where every answer is equally valid. I thought of that too, but didn't want to suggest it because it wouldn't really save the question... (I'm still thinking on what might work here) – Tinkeringbell Apr 9 '18 at 15:11
  • 3
    I don't honestly think I can answer this question without knowing more about the intensity and duration of the customer contact and/or products delivered (repeats versus one-offs) and the resulting amount of feedback that your manager receives. Feedback is different for, say, retail sales versus preparing advice with the customer. Could you clarify? – GretchenV Apr 9 '18 at 18:20
35

Firstly, your manager is likely just trying to make sure that you know you are appreciated.

Secondly, it is an interpersonal test of your ability to follow-up on a conversation topic. I'm not saying that anything is currently going on but if a higher position opens up then your manager will have a much easier time of recommending you for it if you show good interpersonal skills everyday.

You should try:

Oh thank you, it's very nice to hear that. Did they mention anything in specific which they liked?

Hopefully your manager is able to continue the conversation and it puts the onus on them to not end things awkwardly.

  • 20
    "it puts the onus on them to not end things awkwardly" - all conversations are secretly a game of hot potato, and the loser's punishment is an awkward silence. – user12377 Apr 10 '18 at 0:01
35

You could ask what exactly the customer commended on.

This gives your manager the possibility to talk a bit more about what was appreciated.

2

Good feedback can also be taken to mean solid critique, especially if contact with the customer has been intensive and involves a complex result. What typically happens in these cases is that the manager or an account manager reviews the project after it is done (and depending on the duration also at regular intervals with the client) to verify if the client is satisfied and whether some things could have been done better (and to pave the way for future sales). The information from such reviews if the contract went well is typically rather vague.

A problem with your current replies is that they stop your new manager from progressing into an exploration of the feedback with you. Your new manager does not know you yet and quite a few managers have been promoted/appointed on the basis of other skills than social skills. Note also that the manager gained this information second-hand (from the customer) or even third hand (via an account manager). Enter the awkward silence, he may want to talk about it further but does not want or know how to take the initiative.

So, if you dare, open it up and say:

Thanks, but I am sure some things could have been done better?

This invites him to suggest improvements based on the customer's feedback. But be prepared for a follow-up such as:

What would you suggest?

And then you can suggest a process improvement. There is always something that can be improved in the process. Keep away from negatives and motivate.

1

Your manager maybe expecting your active participation in feedback. Like if he said something, he wants you to come up with like you can say thanks. .we did our best...what else we can do?..or maybe you can share your experience with him ..but little short to fill your 5/6 seconds looooong time

0

Honestly, just a brief "Thanks, that's good to hear" or "Thanks, I'm glad to hear that" is probably sufficient. Follow up with a smile and look at your supervisor to see what's coming next- what's his expression? Smiling? Worried about something? Looking like he's holding something back he wants to ask about?

If there's a super long pause, or it looks like she wants to say something else, you can always be straightforward: smile and say "was there anything else you wanted to ask about?"

But pauses often feel longer than they are, especially when you're just getting to know someone. You can always smile, wait a second, and then look back to your work. At least your manager is passing on positive feedback.

  • 2
    That last sentence is HUGE. Poor managers say "If you're not hearing from me, you're doing OK." That is lazy and just plain wrong. Passing along feedback, be it positive, negative, or informational, contributes to employee motivation and engagement and helps the review to be just a review and not a surprise-laden adventure. – baldPrussian Apr 9 '18 at 14:11
  • What's wrong with this answer, why the downvote? While Mafii has a point, this approach is absolutely valid. – r41n Apr 9 '18 at 14:34
  • @r41n did you post this underneath the wrong answer, or use the wrong name? – Tinkeringbell Apr 9 '18 at 14:38
  • @Tinkeringbell, I don't think so, just an unfortunate phrasing on my part I guess. – r41n Apr 9 '18 at 14:57
  • 2
    @Tinkeringbell I know, when I posted my comment there were only two answers, this and the one posted by Mafii. I feel that, while there's nothing wrong with Mafii's answer, the one from chauxvive is as valid but had score of -1. That downvote made no sense to me. – r41n Apr 10 '18 at 6:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.