So we can all agree that feedback is important. Most people I ask as to whether they’re comfortable with receiving feedback. Say that “they’re all ears”, “an open book”, “they’re chill about everything and they don’t take things personally”.
But I often find when I deliver it they will take the opportunity in the conversation to explain or defend themselves. I notice their stress levels are higher. They’re in some version of a fight or flight response.
Because giving feedback is such a central aspect of my professional career. Nor it’s working with clients or staff, I decided I better do some research on how to do it right.
Here is what I found useful for both feedback givers and receivers.
- No more compliment sandwiches.
Studies found that a compliment sandwich makes the feedback giver feel good but not necessarily the receiver.
You’re in some way training the receiver to associate receiving positive reinforcement with receiving criticism. This stops them from listening to anything positive you have to say. As they instead anxiously prepare themselves to hear your criticism.
It also may make them devalue your positive feedback and perceive it as performative though it may be completely genuine.
- I believe people are always trying to do their best every day and generally, it tends to go unnoticed.
Get into the habit of noticing the good someone in your personal or professional circle is doing. Let them know you’ve noticed.
Also, help them feel successful by commending them on the action they’re taking. I’ll bet there’s a learning opportunity in it for you too.
- Ask for permission.
All you need to say is “can I share a suggestion for improvement with you?”. It’s really simple. And resist the urge to preface with “I think you’re great, you’re doing a great job, etc”. That’s just calming you down.
Outline your observation and deliver your suggestion for improvement. It’s really simple.
- Be self-aware and notice if you’re delivering your feedback or suggestion in a superior way.
You can give feedback without coming across as superior. You shouldn’t shy away from doing so if you have something valuable to tell them just to humble and honest.
- Only provide critical feedback if you can offer someone a solution.
Have such integrity about delivering feedback that would only deliver the feedback. As well as it could successfully help understand and implement suggestions for improvement. Nevertheless guiding or coaching them throughout.
- Bulk up your feedback muscle over time.
In your organization or personal circle make feedback part of the culture. Build up your ability to listen without the need to defend or explain yourself.
Just devote all of your energy at that moment to listen carefully and take whatever nuggets of information from it. Ultimately it will helpful for your own growth.