Feedback. Some people dread the word as it can invoke times they gave it or received it. No matter the associations to feedback, it's an important part of growth whether at work or in a relationship. The question is, how do we get better at giving it and receiving it?
In this blog post, I'll share some tips I have learned and used, whether in my professional or personal life. Hopefully, there is something that is helpful for you to use.
To start, I want to differentiate between positive and constructive feedback. In this blog post, I'll be discussing constructive feedback as most positive feedback is easy, or easier, to receive e.g. "I like your hair."
In terms of giving feedback, I assume most of us have heard of the sandwich method. If not, it's the concept of sandwiching constructive feedback between positive comments. For instance, "You performed really well in the last project. Of course, you can improve your punctuality but, overall, you're a great addition to the team." It can be effective but it's not my favourite. The reason being is that there are people who catch on to the method and, if so, it can sound insincere.
Instead try these:
Focus on the Situation, Not the Person: Discuss actions and their impact, avoiding personal criticism.
Frame Feedback in a Question: Instead of making a statement, provide feedback by asking a question e.g. "Why did you choose the colour red for that?" This invites two-way conversation in a non-confrontal way while allowing you to share your perspective.
See Giving Feedback as an Investment: I assume you wouldn't take the time to provide feedback to someone you don't care about. It might help to provide feedback to someone if you see it as an investment. You're investing in the relationship (work or otherwise) by providing feedback and ways to improve. Your tone and delivery will also match your intention if you see it as an investment.
Be Timely and Relevant: providing feedback soon after the event is more effective. Also, keeping on topic is also key.
As for getting better at receiving feedback, try these methods:
See Feedback as an Investment: Again, if the person didn't care about you or wanted to see you grow, they probably wouldn't give you feedback.
Ask Questions: Ask questions for better understanding and context. This helps prevent any misunderstandings.
Take Time to Reflect and Evaluate: Once you receive feedback, try to take time to reflect and evaluate it. Do you feel it's true? Was there a misunderstanding? Reflection and evaluation of feedback allows room to respond versus react which is key to keep effective communication. Even if it's for a few seconds or a minute, allow a grace period between the person's comments and your response.
Ask for Solutions if None Were Provided: If someone gave you feedback but you're left wondering how you could improve or action the feedback, don't hesitate to ask for one. This shows you are receptive and that you care.
Hopefully, there's a tip or two you can use the next time you want to give or are receiving feedback. In terms of providing feedback, depending on the situation, you can give it right away (as suggested in one of my points) or wait to see if it becomes a pattern then share. It still should be timely and relevant, however.
As for receiving feedback, you can also look for patterns of receiving the same or similar feedback. Typically, if three or more people are saying the same thing you might want to have a hard look at your behaviour. Of course, you don't have to wait for three or more people to give you similar feedback to change your behaviour. Being as receptive as possible to any feedback is important both professionally and personally.
Again, I'm talking about constructive feedback here, not criticism. If someone is being critical of you and has a pattern of doing so, you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with them (whether a working relationship or otherwise). It's still best to take time to respond versus react (not to escalate the situation) but often enough disengaging or discontinuing the relationship is best.
Sometimes giving feedback is tough if your work culture or partner is avoidant, however, I find it's still important to do so if you want to see change. The person can't improve if they don't know how you feel or think. We also can perhaps receive feedback better if we understand that often when we take things personally, it's because we deep down agree with it, and it hit a nerve.
If you're still struggling to give or receive feedback, apply here for a Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help you.
Ps. If you'd like to learn more about how a life coach can help you, please check out this article.