How often do you give and seek feedback from others at work and at home? If you’re like most people, chances are that you don’t share and/or seek out feedback as often as you should. Why do we need to give and receive feedback in the first place? So that we can learn from our mistakes made in the past, improve ourselves in the present, and be better in the future. Because life is all about having meaningful results and relationships, sharing and taking feedback from those you’re closest to goes a long way toward building those relationships and helping you produce results in your personal and work lives.
One reason we don’t share feedback with others (or are hesitant) is because giving proper feedback can be hard. Here are some possible reasons:
- We fear hurting the other person because we might do a poor job of separating the action from the person; we know we need to give feedback on the former, not the latter, which isn’t always easy in practice.
We mistakenly think that it’s not mutually beneficial. We might think, “Why should we give feedback to others? What’s in it for us?” We wrongly think that giving feedback would only help them, which is simply not true. When we give feedback to others, not only can they improve, but it also makes our job easier. Plus, it improves the relationship between you both. There is no downside here. It is a win-win.
Another reason is that we’ve stopped caring because we think nothing positive could come of it or that the other person won’t change anything. What we forget is that sharing feedback with others becomes even more important when they feel down, depressed, or challenged.
When we do share feedback, we end up going to one extreme or the other: we either show too much courage or too much sensitivity. We forget that as with most things, a balance is required.
The first step in sharing feedback with others is getting consent from the person you’re sharing feedback with. You can share feedback only when they are willing to receive.
Remember, the purpose of sharing feedback is not for satisfying your personal requirement, but for satisfying mutual needs. It’s a win-win situation.
When giving feedback, always keep your emotions in check. Your feedback should be driven by logic, not emotion. When sharing feedback, you want to be calm and objective. Always share feedback while keeping empathy in mind.
Feedback is always given purposefully and regularly, and is not dependent on one’s “mood”. It is always given as a suggestion.
Frame your feedback in terms of what the other person did right and what they could improve upon. The order of giving feedback is important here. It is always good to point out things the other person is doing well before telling them what they can improve upon. Consider it a preamble, if you will. Focus on the action/behavior of the person instead of the person. Avoid making it personal. Just because the other person made a mistake doesn’t make them bad.
Avoid being vague when giving feedback. Make it specific. Simply knowing what the problem is won’t help if they don’t know what they can do specifically to improve. The more specific you can be, the higher the chances are that they will improve because there’s clarity involved.
Deliver the feedback for what needs to change in a positive light instead of a negative criticism. We do it this way because our right brain cannot visualize negative statements. The feedback we share should be based on personal experience/fact and not based on belief or feedback of other people. It should be about matters in which change can be brought about immediately and not matters that are difficult to change. Effective feedback is always positive and balanced (never negative). It nurtures the relationship (deposit) of both involved and never strains it. Always confirm with the other person whether the feedback you shared was rightly understood. Then, decide on a time in the near future to follow up on the feedback to ensure the action was completed.
Always follow up to ensure that the feedback that was shared was acted upon. When they know that you’ll be following up soon, they are more likely to do what they promised by putting the feedback into action.
So who do you share feedback with? Well, you share feedback with your customers — anyone who has a vested interest in you. Employees are your customers, and so are your friends and family members. You share (and ask) feedback with them from time to time. You can only share feedback with those who you have “emotional deposits” with. This is part of building trust with others.
The timing of sharing feedback is crucial. That means we always give it at an appropriate time. Most of all, we share feedback when the other person is open to receiving it.
For instance, avoid giving feedback in charged situations when emotions can often run high. The time to share feedback is not when the person is driven by emotion, but instead when they are calm and objective. When others are driven by emotion, it’s hard for them to listen to feedback because their mind is being driven by the right brain. No matter how good your intentions might be, they won’t listen to you because they are not in a state to listen. All you can do at that point is listen to understand them. Then, later, when the conversation turns logical, you may share feedback when they ask for it.
When others give us feedback, how should we receive it? First, we need to consider the source. Seek out feedback from people you trust. When they give you feedback, shut up, listen, think, and thank them without giving your opinion or feeling the need to defend or justify yourself.
Avoid taking feedback personally as long as it’s directed at a specific action and not you. Understand that it’s not about you, but your actions/behaviors that are being evaluated. It is imperative to separate the two. Think logic, not emotion. Be calm and objective without letting your ego take the limelight.
Ask questions to clarify your doubts about the feedback; acknowledge and confirm that you’re hearing it exactly the way it’s intended so that the other person feels understood as well.
Follow up this feedback with action. Let the person know what you did along with the results. This lets the other person know that you not only took their advice, but you’re also following up with them to understand (and evaluate) the results of their actions, which makes them feel valued in the process.
Ignore all unsolicited feedback since it’s almost always for the sender.
Asking for feedback regularly in our closest relationships at home and work can be a great way to improve those relationships. Plus, it doesn’t take much time to accomplish. All it requires is having courage to ask for feedback and having the discipline to follow up and do something with the feedback you get. Here’s a basic framework you can use for now:
- What is working well for you in our relationship?
- What can I do to help improve our relationship?
- How can I be a better partner/friend/parent/child?
We must regularly ask for feedback, listen, learn, and consistently follow up in order to be more effective at home and at work. How else will we improve? If we want to get better, the onus is on us to seek feedback and not necessarily for others to give. Not only do we get better, but by doing this we also improve our relationship with them.
Set up a recurring (weekly/monthly/quarterly) schedule in your trusted system to get feedback from those you’re most frequently in contact with as a way to improve your relationship with them. That means you (or both) give feedback to each other regularly since it’s required for your spiritual growth (and theirs). Let the process of doing this regularly determine the positive outcome of your relationship and result.
Think of sharing feedback in terms of helping the other person as much as you can. Think of getting feedback in terms of learning as much as you can from the other person. Without regular constructive feedback, continuous improvement is not possible.