Giving and receiving feedback can be a difficult process and one I know I have tried to avoid in the past. Not wanting to hurt other’s feelings or having yours hurt in return, can mean all too often, that we don’t express our feedback to others or seek it for ourselves, resulting in negative behaviours going unchallenged and a lot of growth and learning being missed out on.
Therefore, it is important for us all to learn how to provide feedback to others, effectively and constructively without causing offence, and how to prepare ourselves to receive feedback in an open and gracious way.
What is Effective Feedback?
For feedback to be effective it needs to be presented in a respectful manner, be clearly understood and accepted by the person you are providing it to. While we will have little to no control over whether the person chooses to act on our feedback we can ensure that it was delivered in a fair and clear way.
Below are five points put together by http://www.skillsyouneed.com that are important to take into consideration when providing feedback.
- Focus on particular behaviours rather than a person’s personality
Ensure your feedback focuses on how a person behaved rather than casting judgement on their personality, values or belief system.
- Describe the effect of the person’s behaviour on you
You can only comment on how the behaviour made you feel, as you don’t know the effect it had on others. By presenting your feedback in this way, it will be much easier for the recipient to accept it as is, as you are presenting a blame-free opinion. Using ‘I’ statements can be useful. i.e. “I felt upset by the way you spoke to me in that meeting.”
- Be as specific as possible
Focus on specific occasions, and behaviours, and identify what is was the person did and how it made you feel.
- Be timely
Feedback back needs to be given as soon as possible after the event while everyone can remember what happened, it will have little impact six months later.
- Pick your moment
Pick a moment when the person you want to provide feedback to appears calm and will have space to reflect on your feedback afterwards i.e. don’t pick a moment when your colleague already appears frustrated and is about to go into an important meeting.
It’s also important to reflect on how you receive feedback, particularly when it might be something that you don’t want to hear or may not be delivered in a considerate way.
It’s important to open to feedback and take the time to listen to what they have to say, not just planning your come back.
In order to hear feedback, you need to listen to it. Don’t think about what you’re going to say in reply, just listen.
If you feel like you require further clarification about the nature or the reasons for the feedback, ask for further details and reflect back on your understanding to ensure you have heard them correctly.
It’s important to focus on your behaviour rather than your personality traits. Feedback shouldn’t be a personal attack on you as a person.
It’s also important to be aware of your emotions and how to best manage them, so that even if the feedback causes an emotional response, you can control it. Try to separate the feedback from your self-worth as a person. After receiving feedback that has triggered an emotional response it’s important to engage in self-care strategies afterwards to limit the impact it has on your wellbeing.
Next time you feel yourself pulling away from providing or seeking feedback, try reflecting on these steps and remember that by avoiding feedback you could also be avoiding supporting others or yourself to grow as a person and make important changes which will help enhance your wellbeing in your personal and professional life.