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10 tips for sharing feedback that will improve your life and career

Feedback! How do you feel when you hear that word? Are you nervous, do you dread it or perhaps, you’re curious to learn more.

In my experience, feedback is not a word many connect with positivity but it doesn’t have to be that way. Feedback shared in the right way can be one of the most powerful tools for growth we can offer each other.

Our society has created an unhelpful brand with feedback being a negative thing, mostly down to the fact that too little of us actually share the good stuff with each other.

Feedback allows each of us to recognise what we’re great at and where we can improve. It’s not a stick to be beaten with, something I’m aware that sadly too many people have experienced.

So, how do we make feedback less fearful and more brain friendly – here’s 10 things you can do.

Check your relationship

Before giving feedback you’ll need to have built trust with the person who you wish to share feedback with.

Getting feedback from someone you hardly know will never land well. Think about it, if someone who you don’t know very well and has made no attempt at building trust with you, shares direct feedback – how likely are you to take notice of it?

So, before you begin, make sure you’ve invested in building a relationship with the recipient. The importance of trust cannot be overlooked in the art of sharing feedback.

Use your emotional intelligence

All humans are emotional beings and too often we forget the role of emotions and feelings in the workplace. This is the most notable sin in my books in getting feedback wrong.

We cannot expect people not to be emotional in this process. So it’s up to us to scan the situation, lead with kindness, talk like a human and consider the emotional state of the person you’re about to give feedback to – is this the right time?

Pick the right time and place

Building upon my previous point – timing is everything. And, not only the when but where.

As a number one rule, never give critical feedback in public. This is the quickest way to destroy any relationships or trust with the other person. Not only that, if you’re doing this in the workplace, the rest of your team will take note and you’ll end up with a not so positive reputation.

Always be mindful of choosing the right time and place to share feedback. This includes the positive stuff too – some people love public praise and others prefer it in private. Use your observation skills to determine the right course of action.

Scan the environment before making a move

Tied in closely to the above – make sure the recipient of your feedback is in the right frame of mind to have that chat.

Before initiating the conversation, scan the atmosphere by asking “Would you have 5 mins today for me to share some feedback with you?” – you’ll quickly discover whether it’s a good time or not from their body language, regardless of the answer.

Focus on what you’ve experienced only

A common mistake when giving feedback is to bring in the opinions or whispers of others. This is not a smart move as you don’t have context, data or really anything to evidence from a personal perspective.

Share what you’ve experienced directly only. Avoid blur words like ‘we’ or ‘our’ and use I statements.

Bring order to chaos

Sharing feedback whether face to face or via written form can be a jumbled mess.

That’s why it’s wise to use a simple but effective structure to align your thoughts in what you’re going to say. A simple one that I share with colleagues, friends and family is the SBI model.

You want to focus on sharing specific situations, the behaviour you saw and the impact it had on you and others present.

Spotlight on performance not the person

Feedback should be de-personalised and non judgemental. Always focus on the things the person does and their performance vs the person themselves.

Feedback is not to attack people with, it’s a mechanism to uncover blindspots, share praise and help each of us get better.

Be solution focused

Don’t be that person who shares constructive feedback but hasn’t thought about how the recipient can improve.

Whenever you share feedback, always have in mind how what you share will actually help the other person. Telling them captain obvious statements with no sight of a solution they can work on is absolutely useless.

Position a positive close to the conversation

Much like with offering a solution in the previous point. No matter the subject of the conversation, look to create a positive close to it.

Offer help

Don’t drop bombshells and leave the person stranded in your sea of feedback. Provide support with next steps, offer them your help – you’ve spotted the blindspot, now help them navigate it.

Remember, feedback is to help people grow and deliver praise. It’s not a tool that’s just used to criticise people!! 

Useful resources

You might also like

Don’t fuck up feedback: Get Praise and criticism right

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