Giving and Receiving Feedback
A common request from our clients is to address the topic of feedback. “How do we give constructive feedback to our colleagues?” “How do we give feedback to our bosses?” Equally important, we might add, is receiving feedback! Here are some helpful tips:
General Guidelines for Giving Feedback
- Check to see if feedback is wanted. Keep in mind that timing and location are crucial. “I have some feedback for you. Are you open hearing it?” (If no, respect the person’s decision).
- Be specific & don’t judge or exaggerate. Describe what you want to feed back without using words that indicate judgment. Don’t use labels and don’t exaggerate. Avoid loaded expressions such as “never” or “always.”
- Ask questions. In addition to sharing your thoughts, ask the person their opinions. Allow the receiver to suggest changes in behavior before offering options yourself.
- Perception check. Ask question to see if your message has been accurately heard, remembering that the message sent is not always the message received. You may need to present the feedback differently.
- Focus on your concern for the person. Monitor your attachment to “being right” or for the person changing in ways that you think they should. Focus on behaviors that can be changed.
General Guidelines for Receiving Feedback
- Breathe. Remember you are a worthy person, separate from your actions and behaviors.
- Listen carefully & drop your defensiveness. Paraphrase the information you are receiving to make sure you understand the information. Ask questions for clarity.
- Acknowledge the feedback. Let the person know you have heard them and that you will consider their feedback.
- Take time to sort out what you have heard. Give yourself time and space to assimilate and evaluate the information. Remember that it’s not necessary to agree or disagree with the feedback. It is simply information. Let go of the need to justify, defend, or explain your actions. Don’t over-internalize the feedback (assume it’s all true).
- Be honest with yourself. Use feedback as an opportunity to create greater awareness. Explore any feelings created by the feedback.