3 Ways to Give and Receive Feedback

3 Ways to Give and Receive Feedback

And they say breaking up is hard to do. Try asking for feedback.

Asking for feedback can be scary. What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t know what I am doing? Giving feedback can also make many uneasy. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they take it the wrong way?

There are plenty of what if’s when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. The reality is that you’re holding yourself back – personally and professionally – if you’re not doing either.

The name of the game is called constructive criticism.

Giving and receiving feedback is imperative to effective communication and high performance – it’s a cycle.  If you want someone to know that their behaviors and actions are upsetting to you or not meeting the mark, then you need to let them know. You also need to let them know why you’re upset and how that makes you feel or what specific behaviors and actions are impacting performance and why. And – you need to be willing to hear the same from others. So…

How do I ask for feedback?

  • Clarity – Be clear when asking for feedback. Express your thoughts and feelings in a rational and concise manner. For feedback to be constructive and effective both parties need to be clear in determining exactly what it is they want – this requires upfront agreement and understanding. Agree upfront to the desired outcomes and any follow-up actions per feedback discussions.
  • Transparency – Be transparent. Once clarity has been reached it is important to be transparent with what you’re asking and why. This is your opportunity to hear the truth (hopefully) so lay the groundwork by being transparent with WHY you want the feedback and HOW you think it can benefit both parties. Not just what’s in it for you to hear the feedback but what’s also in it for the giver to provide the honest feedback you’re requesting?
  • Honesty – Be honest. You need to be honest – with yourself and the giver of the feedback. When asking for feedback, you may not hear what you want to hear, the feedback may not be all positive. You need to be honest that this may not feel so good, and that you may not be able to change a situation or make improvement, so don’t over commit in an effort to change or improve.

How do I give feedback?

  • Build trust – Trust is imperative to providing effective feedback. If you want the receiver to really hear what you are saying, they need to know you have their best interests in mind, and your intent really is to try and help them grow and improve. People can often feel scared or threatened when receiving feedback, but if they’re receiving it from someone they trust, this often helps alleviate some of that fear – and thus they tend to be more receptive.
  • Suspend judgment – Judgment is just your opinion of a person or a situation. When people feel judged they shut down. This is the opposite of what feedback should accomplish. Don’t get into right and wrong and blame and shame. Stay objective and constructive.
  • Focus on behaviors – When giving feedback it is important to focus on the behaviors and actions and the impacts associated with those. Keep any emotions in check. Do not focus on the person or nitpick flaws. Don’t make it personal (even if sometimes it is.) State observations not interpretations.

For example, sometimes it’s as simple as saying:

“I think what I hear you saying is ______, is that correct?”

“You know (name) when you say things like that it really makes me feel frustrated because _______.”

“When I hear/see you do/say _______ it makes me feel _______ because ________.

“In an effort to help us all be more successful I would like to share with you some observations regarding _______.”

As you can see – giving  and receiving feedback isn’t that scary after all – and it can lead to improved relationships and increased performance. If you’d like to learn more about to communicate better overall – check out our Leadership Checklist here.

Share with us your stories about good and bad feedback on Twitter or on our Facebook Timeline.

About Scott Span, MSOD: Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organization Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 

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