HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK
We’re living in an ocean of feedback. Sometimes I feel drown by negative feedbacks. Sometimes I feel confused without any feedback. And I’m clueless how to give a proper feedback. Richard William is an internationally recognized business consultant specializing in leadership development. From his book Tell me how I’m doing, he advises readers how to give feedback in an effective way. I did the experiment myself. The results were profound, out of control and surprising.
I seldom give appreciation to others or myself. Richard suggests giving positive feedback on look, behavior and character. I tried this to my brother. “You’re good-looking today. I’m happy that you washed the dishes. You’re a good kid, ” I said. My brother was not convinced at all and replied, “Why are you so fake today?”
When I want to appreciate others’ behavior, I followed Richard’s advice – describe the specific behavior, its consequences and how I feel. I tried to thank my mum in this specific way. “Mum, thank you for cooking me dinner. It’s yummy and it makes me feel full and lucky that I have a good mum who still takes care of me. I feel like I don’t have to grow up at all and I enjoy being taken care of.” Despite my long and specific appreciation, I couldn’t identify any reaction from her. Only poker face.
My mum always talks negatively to me. I have never heard of any compliments from her. My self-esteem is low with her presence. One day I asked her, “Did you realize everything you said to me is negative? Did you ever encourage others? Could you stop personal attack? Give encouragement in stead of criticism, please. I don’t think I can do anything with this negativity.” She kept looping the negative comments again. I felt totally hopeless. “What is the meaning of life? Does anyone know?”
My mum fails to give me corrective feedback and I refuse to change as she wishes. Me too. I fail to give her corrective feedback and she keeps being who she is. I feel happier to go no contact with her. So I think unless others want the corrective feedback, it’s better not to give any. Maybe you can do it better than me by taking Richard’s advice to deliver effectively as follows:
- Try the supportive feedback first
- Use carefully guided questions
- State that improvement is needed
- Use appropriate discipline
- Draw a line in the sand
HOW TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK
The book Thanks for the feedback by Doug Stone and Sheila Heen talks about the art of receiving negative feedback. They suggest the best question to ask for feedback to self-improve is that “What’s the one thing I can change so as to make the biggest difference?”
When we receive the negative feedback, do we really understand it? Most likely, we might have a wrong interpretation if we don’t clarify the true meaning. It’s great to understand it from other’s point of view first. Ask where is the feedback coming from, what the adviser wants you to do differently and why.
I think the hardest part is to decide if the feedback is valid or not. Yet the negative feedback does tell us the impact we’ve made on others somehow. It helps us to recognize our blind spots, letting us know what we don’t know. Just like a CCTV video tape showing what we did from a third party’s point of view. I wish I could have an exclusive and invisible camera recoding my life so that I could watch it myself. This can skip asking people for feedback (If you’re an introvert, you will understand).
I always get defensive when my mum criticizes me for not doing things her way. I scold her for being rude and loud, pointing the finger at her instead. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen call this switchback, which means changing to another topic. Do I switchback to her tone? They suggest not to switchback when receiving negative feedback. Simply focus on discussing one topic at a time. This takes self-awareness to do so. And obviously I’m lacking that.
Build a growth mindset
After I get the feedback and understand it more, what’s next? Two choices here. One, thanks for the advice and don’t take it. Two, do small experiments to change in progress. There could be one more choice and I just invent it. That is, ask a friend to improve together.