When someone asks if they can give you some feedback, what do you usually think of?
Firstly, you are probably surprised that someone has asked if they can give you feedback and then you may go through a number of thoughts such as “what did I do wrong?”, “what do I need to improve on?”, “what can I do better?”
The problem is, once you are going through these thoughts, you do not really listen to understand the feedback you are more likely to think about rationalising your behaviour, making excuses for what you did and may also doubt the motives of the person providing the feedback.
The definition of feedback in the Oxford English Dictionary is twofold :-
- Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement. This definitely fits with the reaction you may have above
- The modification or control of a process or system by its results or effects, for example in a biochemical pathway or behavioural response. This definition implies that feedback can be positive too!
My view on feedback is that we ought to give it more often – that is positive feedback! This is something that we do not do often enough and do not really do well enough. We may say “good job” or “well done” but I want to see more thought going into positive feedback.
So how do you do it? This is an area I have been modelling and it is so simple; just follow these steps:-
- You hear or see something that pleases you
- You notice how that makes you feel. If not so good, remove the thought from your mind and if it is good notice how it really makes you feel.
- Tell the other person. So what do you say to them? You tell them 4 distinct things:-
- Tell them what you have seen or heard
- Explain the personality trait that this demonstrates
- The impact this has on you
- Thank you
So for example,
- Recently I have noticed how the team seems to be functioning better
- I love the enthusiasm you bring into work every day and this seems to be rubbing off on other members of the team
- And this makes my job so much easier
- Thank you
Why don’t you try this positive feedback more often? If you can get right to the core values and identity of the person the reaction will be amazing. When you see this reaction on the other person’s face and notice how it makes them feel, just notice how it makes you feel.
Just imagine if we followed this approach with our young people too. How much would that help them understand their personal qualities, how they are appreciated and the impact they have on others around them. Just think about how that would boost their self-esteem and their confidence.
Go on, give it a go, notice the impact you have and just imagine what ripple effects that feedback could have!
Tracy Ward; Your Catalyst for Change