Self-depricating Sense Of Humor While Providing Feedback That Could Be Hurtful

When I first started my business I had a couple working for me. I sent the guy out to pick up some green stock for a mock-up I was preparing for a meeting. It was for a private golf club and I asked for a very strong green that represented the greenery you see when you look at a golf course. He returned with olive green paper and I said “not only do I not like this color, I hate it!” His girlfriend at the time thought I was too harsh and tried to comfort him with words. She said something like awww, it’s not that bad … geez Christine don’t beat around the bush, just come out and tell us how you really feel. Well, this sarcasm gave me an opening and I took it. I told them both that I was sorry if I hurt his feelings but I don’t have time to worry about sugar coating my words when I am trying to meet a deadline. I also told them they could call me Beat Around The Bush Bates (that was my maiden name). From that moment on, any time I had to review work or provide my feedback about something, we referred to that name, and it gave all of my employees a totally different approach and way of thinking about my direct responses. The more severe I was the more funny it became. I loved this because we were getting things done and moral was at a healthy high even though, aside from adding the humor to it, I didn’t change my direct feedback. That name doesn’t work for me any more as I am now a Hatter not a Bates but feel free to use it if you think it might help you. I think it has a nice ring to it: Beat Around The Bush Brooke!
And my question: How would you reduce the direct approach a business owner needs to take to a model about you and not them? What would the circumstance line be generally speaking? I feel I have this situation all over again with members of my team that I work with remotely now and it’s not as easy to get to know them as well as when teammates are working by your side. Thanks!