How good are you at taking feedback or even giving feedback?
Yet another podcast episode inspired by the activities in the BB House with GCSEs taking place. Emma talks about the conversation she has with her daughter when reviewing the practice exam papers. She struggled with some feedback and said ‘I know that you’re right, I just don’t like to hear it”
It’s often common that many of us don’t always like to give or receive feedback.
We need to make sure when we give feedback, we are clear, concise and definitely not unkind.
Whether you’re a business owner, a leader in business or need to give or receive feedback in any other place in your life. For many of us it can be difficult to give feedback or hear it.
When I was in corporate work, we gathered 360 feedback. It looked at what went well, what wasn’t going well, what can be improved. This type of information can help us to improve.
Many of us struggle to receive and give feedback. We can dread the thought of giving or hearing feedback. That phrase about constructive criticism provokes a feeling of dread, fear or unease.
Feedback done the right way, with the right intentions can help us to improve our understanding or performance. Sometimes it means we need to do a bit of personal work or even stay calm enough to be able to hear it.
Emma talks about the way she asks for feedback in her coaching business and gives examples. Some of the questions that Emma asks, helps her to know what needs are being met and what can be done to improve, so that we do not settle into situations and stop the progress.
When you’re thinking about feedback, make sure it will give you information that you want, even if it’s difficult to hear.
Feedback should not be about giving surprising information. Especially in the workplace. Emma talks about quarterly 1:1 meetings to ensure regular updates. It can help to ensure you’re working on track and not going down a path that is not helpful.
Ensure feedback is really clear and specific. Stick to the facts with feedback. Sometimes you might want to say “this might be hard to hear” to pre-empt that it might be difficult but there is a better response. Be factual and keep the emotions out of the feedback.
Be clear about what you mean. Be exact with the information, perhaps about the piece of work, is it accurate, or is the person to friendly or too casual. Being exact means that person knows what they need to tweak or change to correct and adjust.
Ensure you don’t generalise or over-exaggerate. Using words like “all” or “never” means it’s probably not true, so try not to use phrases like this.
Give feedback from a person-centred approach – using the work I. I felt this, I saw this. When we use “you” it can seem accusatory and can seem like we are wagging a finger in their face, so keep the feedback to I heard / I felt.
Use a feedback sandwich. This starts with a positive piece of feedback, then the negative, then finish with a positive. If it’s just negative feedback it can feel like an attack and the other person gets defensive or disheartened.
If you’re asking for feedback. Be careful. Sometimes some people ask for feedback and don’t like the information or answer that they receive! If you’re asking for feedback, bear in mind there will always be more than one opinion, sometimes that might not be what you want to hear.
Emma shares a story about people sat round a table and someone asks for feedback, but the response was not what was expected. It made for a difficult situation.
Whatever the emotions that arise as a result of feedback, you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. Ensure your feedback is helpful and constructive.
But don’t ask questions if the answer might not be what you want to hear! Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, take on board the information and decide what you will use and what you will not.
As a final helpful point, Emma advises that you make sure you get feedback from people you respect and that are invested in you too. If someone is on opposing sports team, then their opinion and feedback is not going to align.
Often if clients get a tough piece of feedback Emma advised them to go and look at a book review. Pick a book that you’ve read that was great for you, notice the reviews that align with your views and also that there will be other negative opinions there. Sometimes there will be feedback (often that we haven’t asked for) and it might not be applicable.
You have a choice about what you listen to, what helps you grow and move forward.