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Constructive Feedback

Many times when we give feedbacks – our underlying intention is to be constructive and to encourage improvement. I realize that giving feedbacks requires specific skills – otherwise, it does nothing more than create a sense of awkwardness and helplessness that is destructive for the receiver.

Why feedback?

Firstly, we need to establish and be clear about our intentions and outcome – of what it is that we want to achieve. Many people masks their resentment and/or discontentment about certain situation – and label it as feedback. The purpose for us to feedback is to help facilitate the receiver’s improvement.

How do we give constructive feedback?

When we give feedback, the receiver must be able to have sensorial feedback in order to make the desired change. Sensorial based feedback – does not only state how you feel, rather it states the behaviour of the receiver – what he says or does which requires changes or improvements.

Saying – “I feel your presentation can be better.” is as good as saying naught. This is not constructive in anyway – as the receiver has nothing to work on – and demoralizes the person [destructive].

Instead if you describe the specific behaviour for example, “You can use more variety in your intonation.” or, “I notice that you have your hands in your pocket about 80% of the time you were presenting. You could make more impact when you use your hands to emphasize the points you were making.”

If for any reasons you cannot pin point the improvement areas, it is best to keep your opinion to yourself – until you can identify the specific areas to improve. Sometimes, how we feel about something – it’s just a reflection of what we are going through in our own lives.

The ability to give constructive feedback is one of the essential skills as a trainer and leader in any organizations. Your ability to have clear distinctions about what works and what doesn’t takes you into another level of expertise. It is interesting to note, that many people are good at what they do, but lacks the ability to chunk and distinguish what it takes to be good.

So what happens when someone gives you feedback?

Most people are not aware of how to give feedback, and when they give you ambiguous and vague feedback – you would want to ask quality questions to get clarity. For example:

“I feel that you are very aggressive in your approach” –

Ask questions – “in what way is my conduct or what I say reflects that I am aggressive?”

If you cannot get any information – in terms of your conduct or what you say – then you may want to ask for feedback from others too. “How do you generally feel about my approach?” Again, if no one else feels the same – then move on. Do not dwell too much into something that neither improves you nor help build you.

However, when someone offers you constructive feedback – on your actions or what you say – you have the opportunity – the door of change is now open to you – to make those changes – Again, feedback unless given by someone you respect and an authority of the subject matter, you may still require verification from other sources. Feedbacks helps us be better – the ignition for change. However, remember – one man’s poison is another man’s meat. So, it’s vital to check with yourself and others – to process the feedback information – before you become dictated by only what others say about you.

Feedback is the breakfast for champions.

What about unsolicited feedback?

Sometimes, we feel compelled to feedback to others about their performance, behaviour or conduct. However, it is vital to understand your context of feedback – your frame. Do you have permission to give the feedback? Have you earned yourself the right to give your critics and judgment? Do you feel that you are the subject matter expertise? Do you have sensorial based evidence to your feedback? Does it make you feel superior when you have judgment and/or critics to give others? What do you want to achieve from the feedback? Do the other person want to hear what you have to say? Does your opinion or judgment carry any weight? What is your relationship with the person? What are your vested interests? In what way, are you learning from your observations of the other? What is the effect you are seeking? Is it ecological? Do you have a hidden agenda?

When we feel compelled to give feedback to others – perhaps its time for us to look within ourselves and discover what it really means to us. What is the game our mind is playing on us?

Listen to our heart, before we feedback

Take time to sit back and listen to your heart – to truly understand the ‘positive intention’ behind our feedback. When we are critical – when we are able to apply our sensory acuity to uncover the distinctions between what works and what doesn’t – then we can make a positive difference in the world. So begin today – to sharpen your skills by being aware and indentifying the little distinctions that makes the great difference – Make your feedback count – make it constructive so it can help build others and yourself.

One of the guiding principles within NLP, that I love – “There is no failure – only feedback.” That no matter what we do – we will always get feedback – and feedback is just information – So, as we continue in our journey in life, I trust that you have gained some insights here – and is aware of your frames of mind, when you are about to give feedback – and how you can make it even more constructive for the receiver; but mostly how the feedback you are about to give affects yourself.

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