08 Nov Is it constructive feedback or destructive criticism?
Giving feedback is all about respect. Feedback that is lacking in respect can really hurt the receiver and damage your relationship.
Whether it be about work or personal development, all feedback is personal to receiver. Take a moment to question your motives. Is it to show how astute you are in picking up errors or making your mark, or is to truly contribute to a good result and nurturing of a person’s sense of worth?
Is feedback actually needed?
Feedback on work documents can seem innocuous, but this feedback can turn pride in work into self-doubt. There is really only one question that people are asking when they ask for feedback…does it get the message across?
If it does, then your feedback is simply “great job, you really got the message across”. You may have worded it differently or structured it differently, but if it gets the message across, then let it go. Allow the author to leave their stamp on the document and leave it just as it is. By doing this you are letting them know they have your respect.
If it doesn’t quite get the message across, don’t re-write it or mark it with tracked changes. Pose the question back to them about firming up key messages and give them the freedom and respect to make their own amendments.
Giving personal feedback should always be for the other person’s benefit, not your own. Does giving them feedback mean that your life will be easier? Stop and ask yourself if it will make their day better or worse. If it will make it worse, then keep it to yourself. If however, you truly believe you can help them to improve an aspect of their life, then provide the feedback, but don’t just blurt it out!
How to give feedback
Give some real thought to your feedback. Choose one thing and one thing only to give feedback on. Feedback takes a lot of self-reflection and energy for the receiver and too much feedback can make a person miserable. Try to frame it in terms of an implementable action, rather than a straight out criticism.
For example, the two options below are providing the same feedback, but it in two incredibly different ways.
Feedback option 1: you talk too much in meetings and dominate the conversation so much that people stop listening.
Feedback option 2: make an impact in meetings by thinking of one really good suggestion and leave people impressed with your perceptiveness.
The first option is very critical and comes across as an insult rather than feedback. It lacks respect and does not give the receiver a specific action to try and address the problem.
Whereas option two shows respect for the receiver, acknowledging that they have great ideas that are perhaps lost amongst meeting conversations. It includes an action for the receiver to test out that is framed in terms of a positive change rather than a personality flaw.
Take time to craft feedback opportunities. When you get more practice at giving valuable feedback you will find your relationships improve, managing staff is easier and you will see people around you develop into confident and capable people. How great is that!