From our years of experience in the business world, we have seen numerous situations where poor communication has been the cause of even major problems. That’s why it’s so important to constantly work on your communication skills. Good communication can make miracles. One of the techniques that enrich the communication realm is feedback.
Having learned a lot about feedback in our communication and coaching trainings, we have found that people often:
■ fail to recognize the value of feedback;
■ do not know what it actually is;
■ don’t know that feedback is neither criticism nor praise;
■ don’t know that there is no such thing as good or bad feedback.
To be a successful communicator, it is also important to know how and when to give or receive feedback.
If you are a manager or leader, the best gift you can give your employees is actionable feedback that:
■ gives them motivation;
■ gives them a reason to change undesirable behaviors;
■ gives them a reason to reinforce desired behaviors;
■ helps them become more engaged than ever;
■ helps them learn how to grow.
As a bottom line, it will help:
■ increase productivity;
■ increase job satisfaction;
■ increase employee retention;
■ create the kind of company culture you want.
But often managers seem to have a hard time embracing it and putting it into practice.
In business communication, feedback refers to helpful information about a person’s behavior, where we point out actions that the recipient of the feedback does not see but that are seen by others, something a person is not aware of and we notice, called the blind spot. It is extremely important that you only give feedback about a person’s behavior and not their identity, values or beliefs.
Basically, feedback is an accurate description of a person’s behavior, followed by our interpretation and a possible recommendation of what we would do in that case if we were that person.
Feedback is not to be confused with praise and criticism. Unlike feedback, praise can also be expressed at the level of identity, e.g.: You are a good translator. Constructive criticism is also welcome for undesirable behaviors and should be given thoughtfully and is not actually negative feedback as some may think, e.g.: I have noticed that the errors in your translations have increased recently.
When we want to help a person reinforce and change a certain behavior or stop doing something, we should ask ourselves why it is important in the first place and what the goal is.
First, we need to assess when we should give feedback. The best time is when a particular behavior occurs, when we are not too emotional or overwhelmed.
Establishing rapport means building a close and harmonious relationship with another person by asking about them or noticing something about them so that you are “in tune” and ready to communicate further.
We need to check with the person to see if they are okay with receiving feedback. Simply ask: Are you okay with me giving you my feedback on something?
We should also say it in a friendly tone or manner. Tone of voice is very important because it accounts for 38% of our communication message.
To reduce resistance, always give a description of the behavior first, not your judgment, e.g.: I noticed you were late for the meeting last week and that happened again this week.
Then we interpret the way we see the behavior, e.g.: I have the impression that you do not respect our time.
We make our suggestions to improve the behavior, e.g.: It would be good if you showed up on time at the next meeting. Next time, please come on time.
It is important to leave the person in a good mood by saying something like this, e.g.: I really appreciate your progress, so take full advantage of it.
1. Be open and listen carefully, stay calm and take deep breaths.
2. Show curiosity about the feedback you receive, e.g.: Could you tell me more about what you saw or heard me do?
3. Distinguish between description and interpretation. Ask for an explanation of what certain words mean to the person giving you the feedback.
4. Ask for some examples.
5. Recognize a positive intent.
6. Accept that what was said is only a perception of the other person.
7. Always say thank you and implement what you find useful for your progress.
Miracles can be created if you believe in miracles and of course if you have the right tools. Feedback is definitely one of the tools to create miracles in your business communication. Giving and receiving feedback as described in this blog may seem a bit awkward or unnatural at first, but once you see the results, you will be motivated to keep practicing and improving. After a while it will become routine, do not worry.