When and How to Share Constructive Feedback?

Giving and receiving feedback — both positive and constructive (people call it negative) — is an essential tool to be deployed in our personal and professional lives. We are all humans; thus, we need to give and receive feedback. At home, our spouses, siblings, children, sometime parents and elderly relatives need feedback and vice-versa. Same goes for the workplace.

Unfortunately, some organisational leaders, managers and family heads are yet to learn how to share feedback. Remember, time, place and environment are key to sharing and receiving feedback. One can yell or raise tone in public but he/she must be prepared for the consequences. Such a feedback doesn’t do any good. Instead, it worsens the relationships. In situations, where you want to talk to an elderly member in the family i.e. your parents, and the home environment isn’t conducive, take him/her along for a long drive and talk it out while driving or in a park or over a cup of coffee at a silent place. Try it out, it works.

Instead of encouraging people to avoid sharing constructive feedback, we should focus on how to deliver it in ways that minimise the fight-or-flight response. One such approach is called Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI). Feedback providers first note the time and place in which a behavior occurred. Then they describe the behavior — what they saw and heard. The final step is to describe the impact the behavior had in terms of the feedback providers’ thoughts, feelings or actions.

Most people know that feedback is important. It helps us to see ourselves from other people’s standpoint, identify what skills to work on, receive recognition for what we did good and what and how can we improve further.

But when it comes to actually giving or receiving feedback — it’s not that easy. Feedback given in the wrong way can destroy everything i.e. demoralize or hurt other people. Even though it was done with the best intentions in mind.

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