Jun
09

Giving and Receiving Feedback

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It can be difficult to give and receive feedback, whether with loved ones, or with people at work.  Here are some guidelines that may help.  You’ve probably heard some of these things before, but we could all use a reminder now and then.

Giving Feedback

  1. Pick your battles, make sure it’s relevant, and stay focused on one issue at a time.
  2. Timing is key.  Feedback does not necessarily have to be given on the spot – but as soon as possible.  You may want to wait until the person is not busy or in a receptive mood.
  3. Feedback should be given directly, not hinted at or filtered through a third party.
  4. Give the feedback caringly, and share positive feedback (not just negative).
  5. Explain how you feel as a result of the other person’s behavior.  Try starting with the word, “I.”  For example, “I feel like ______ when you _____.”  This allows you to own your emotions, and allows for the possibility that your reaction is the issue, rather than the other person’s behavior.
  6. Avoid giving advice.  Try to stay away from, “you should…,” or, “you need to…”  Instead you can share what has worked for you in similar situations, or help the person explore their options.
  7. Give the other person a chance to explain, and validate what you can in their explanation.
  8. Feedback is not feedback when it’s meant to hurt – then it’s just an attack.  Avoid sarcasm or condescending manner when giving feedback.
  9. Avoid being judgmental.  Don’t label the person with derogatory terms like “stupid” or use curse words.  Talk about a specific behavior you can see, rather than judging the whole person.
  10. Don’t nag or hound a person about their behavior unless they have told you that they want your help.  If you’ve talked about it clearly several times and they aren’t changing, then try to accept.

Receiving Feedback

  1. Ask for feedback and receive it openly.  If you feel yourself getting defensive, give yourself some time to calm down and think things through before responding.  “Let me think about it.”
  2. Do not make excuses, try to avoid getting mad, don’t seek revenge, and don’t ignore what’s being said or the person who’s saying it.  If you need time before responding, ask for it.
  3. Acknowledge whatever you can agree with in the feedback, and how it can be valuable to you.
  4. Express appreciation that they cared enough to give you feedback.
  5. Discuss it.  Don’t just say “thank you,” and let it drop.  (If you’re feeling too defensive, then you can plan to discuss it later, after having a chance to think about it.)
  6. View feedback as a continuing exploration.  Think about it and try to build upon it.  Let the other person know how you plan to work on yourself in light of what they said.
  7. Don’t look for motives or hidden meanings.
  8. Seek clarification if you’re not sure what the other person is telling you.
  9. Resist the temptation to point out how they have the same problem, or the temptation to fire back “tit for tat.”  When receiving feedback it’s time to focus on your own issues and how you could work on them.
  10. Negotiate or compromise to the degree that you feel comfortable.  But don’t forget, you grow most when you step slightly outside your comfort zone.
  11. Keep your core values in mind, and think about the feedback you got in that context.  If you find that after careful consideration, the feedback contradicts your core values, then be clear about your boundaries.   But if it fits, then this is an opportunity to work on yourself!

Categories : Relationships

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