The key to this one is to think and act based upon the other persons best interests. If you are giving somebody feedback because you feel their actions don’t benefit you, or could benefit you more, then there is no point in giving feedback at all. Put yourself in the other persons shoes and try to see the motives and habits behind their actions.
1. Build a Strong Relationship – Create an open and relaxed atmosphere, make it clear by the relationship you build with someone that the feedback you are giving is not a slight against them, and you are not secretly enjoying it. One way you can build this kind of relationship is by refraining from teasing, giving somebody personal banter and avoiding being competitive. Regularly listen to their problems and worries, and be trustworthy with any personal views or details they may tell you about their life. When giving them feedback, make sure you listen to what they have to say too.
2. Give Reasons for How Changes They could make Will Benefit Your Team as a Whole – Think about how the changes you suggest could benefit their team, relationship, or them individually. Present the feedback to them in this way rather than by just pointing out their flaws.
3. Empathise – Try to put yourself in their shoes and walk around for a day. Think about their character, and why they do what they do. Think about why they do things their way, and not the way you are suggesting, and make this clear to them by expressing to them that you understand.
4. Be Specific – Try not to make generalising statements, or comment on their innate characteristics. This will make them feel that they are unchangeable. Try to give specific examples of what they did, and how they could do it better. It is always better to say ‘That specific time you did X, the result was Y, but next time I guess you could try Z and see if it works better for you’, than to say ‘You are so Y. Why do you always do X. It would be so much better if you were Z.’ because you are pointing out specifically what they did wrong and how they can fix it. Imagine if your teacher wrote on your French home work at school ‘You’re not very good at French.’ You would feel downhearted, and more importantly you wouldn’t know how you could improve! Much better if they wrote ‘Please revise your past tense verb endings and try to see where you went wrong here and correct it. Then this will be looking really good.’
5. Give a ‘Shit Sandwich’ – A friend that I used to live with was a hairdresser for one of the UK’s largest chains. She said every one to one she had, her manager would give her some positive feedback, followed by negative, followed by positive, also known as a ‘Shit Sandwich’. She would feel lifted and happy by the positive feedback, so more prepared for the negative feedback, then have some more positive feedback and leave the meeting happy and ready to try to make change. This is a hugely effective way of giving feedback, and easily memorable by the humorous name.
6. Offer Solutions – Always point to a way to fix the problem. Otherwise your friend will feel demoralised and demotivated. They may feel more open and attentive to noticing what they did wrong, but always give them a suggestion of a way to change.
7. Be Present – Try to cut out distractions and give the person the respect of having your full attention. Set aside some time to spend with them, turn your phone off, make sure you are not disturbed, and try to set your other worries aside whilst taking to them.
8. Seek to Understand, Then to be Understood – Attempt to understand them before putting your point across, then try to communicate to them what you are trying to say. This is a simple but very effective approach. Self help Guru Stephen Covey talks about this a lot in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.
9. Give Them a Good Reputation – Recall a time in the past when they have done a good job of the thing you are giving them feedback about. Praise them for it and recall it with them.
10. Honestly Love Them and Want the Best for Them – Visualise them being happy, and recall a time when they have been cheery and confident. Think positive thoughts, and feel grounded within yourself. Don’t ever give selfish feedback.
11. Be Genuine – In business people often say ‘Shall we do this’ when they really mean ‘Would you mind doing this?’ This can not only be a bit confusing but can seem like somebody is trying to make you do something and dress it up as something else. You should always think in terms of ‘We’ but if you mean ‘You’, then you should say ‘You’, otherwise you are representing your thoughts dishonestly, and people may notice and trust you less. Don’t ever try to use a box of tricks in the way you deal with people. Be truthful, humble, worthy of trust, and try to build long lasting genuine relationships with people.
12. Use Soft Facial Expressions and Body Language – Be soft in your facial expressions and body language. Relax your brow, eyes and shoulders.
Real Life Examples:
During my one-to-ones at work in my old role, my manager told me I need to be more assertive and direct in my emails, by cutting out niceties (whilst still being polite) and reading back through them to ensure I give useful information, and not too much else. This was useful feedback for me because I had essentially been handed a solution, rather than a problem. It was clear he was doing it in my best interests, and it would benefit everybody involved, by making more effective use of peoples time.
In Gerald’s house, he often he trouble co-operating with his son. They had agreed that his son would do the washing up every day, but he would often not do it right, leaving grease and food stains on the plates, and just rinsing pans, putting them on the drying rack with food still encrusted on the bottom. Gerald would often respond to seeing this with comments like, ‘For God’s sake, you always do it wrong!’. He felt angry at his son that he couldn’t do it right, when he and his wife had spent their whole lives working to put good food on the table. However, after researching how to give effective feedback, Gerald tried a different tactic. He calmly took his son through how to properly wash the dishes, explaining specifically that you had to soak the dishes thoroughly, so that all the food could be washed off, otherwise they would still have food residue on them the next day, which may make them ill, or effect the taste of their dinner. He praised his son for doing this dishes every day, without being asked. By offering solutions, explaining why it would benefit them, and being positive, his feedback was effective.
Do you agree or disagree with any of the above?
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