Have you ever given feedback with honourable intentions only to find the reaction of the person receiving it was totally unexpected? Has this in turn led to you avoiding hard conversations with that person and potentially others ever since? Or, maybe you’ve received feedback that disproportionally hurt and you would like to know why.
Perhaps on a brighter note, you’ve given heartfelt praise and been a little disappointed the person didn’t appreciate just how highly you thought of them?
This article is going to address those types of feedback situations.
I’ll explore how to be more effective when giving positive or developmental feedback. And I’ll challenge you to think about how you personally respond when to your own feedback.
Feedback comes from another person’s perspective of a situation. That’s worth remembering. Most of us are in the business of managing others’ perceptions. Sometimes though, it’s the case that a person giving feedback is looking at the situation through different lenses to you.
There are all sorts of lens filters like age, gender, education, experience and actually, sometimes people have a faulty, biased filter and see more negatives than positives in the situation, because they distort delete or generalise what they are seeing. And of course, there can be a halo effect.
If you feel someone’s filters are biased, then of course you have a choice about whether to accept their feedback or not. However, the perspectives of others should be important to you.
HAVE YOU GOT FAULTY FILTERS?
So then, the starting point for you in giving feedback is to examine your own filters or judgement criteria. Ask yourself, will your feedback actually serve the person or the organisation? And, remember this saying, sometimes the feedback we give says more about us than it does about the other person.
I guess this is the hardest to give. It may be easier to say there are four errors in your report but the subjective matter of giving behavioural feedback requires emotional intelligence.
WHAT DRIVES BEHAVIOUR?
Many of you will know of the iceberg model. If we use it as a metaphor for a person we need to know what is below the waterline when giving feedback.
We know that everyone has values. Values are what is important to us. They lie at the bottom of the iceberg. Our values motivate us to behave the way we do. In fact, all behaviour is a strategy to either protect or gratify our values.
I remember in my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training, being told that all behaviour a person uses is their best choice at the time. That is a powerful statement and one worth mulling over. Particularly when we can’t understand why someone is behaving the way they do.
Some behavioural strategies just don’t work for the person using them or for those around them. The behaviours may be clumsy and ineffective in getting the outcome needed.
Why does a person use ineffective behaviours? They may have esteem issues or background stresses, or they may simply not know what an effective behaviour would be.
Back to the iceberg – a great question to ask yourself before giving feedback is,
‘what value is that person trying to protect or gratify by the behaviour they’re deploying’?
‘what is their honourable intention and how aware are they of their actual impact?
Having a little compassion when you give developmental or constructive feedback will ensure you take time to choose your words more carefully.
SEE DRAWN TO THE ART OF FEEDBACK PART 2 FOR MORE TIPS ON GIVING FEEDBACK
ABOUT DRAWN TO LEARN
Jackie Forbes is the Principal of Drawn to Learn and is an established facilitator trained in and practicing Appreciative Inquiry. Her international career has led her to design and deliver workshops and development programmes within numerous well-known companies and organisations. As a skilled practitioner in traditional facilitation and Graphic Facilitation she specialises in designing and delivering Appreciative Inquiry sessions.
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