How to Give Constructive Feedback
Learning to give and receive constructive feedback is an essential part of learning, growing, improving and achieving our goals.
No one likes being criticised. The word itself evokes fear and defensiveness. However, learning to give and receive constructive feedback is an essential part of learning, growing, improving and achieving our goals. Feedback and criticism can be constructive Ė when itís intended to help you; or destructive Ė when itís designed to be harmful or hurtful, and the difference is vast.
Here are some tips for receiving feedback that can be constructive for yourself and your career progression.
∑ Take an emotional step back and try to be objective. The feedback is not intended to hurt, itís there to help and we all have areas we need to improve. Being objective about the feedback will help you absorb it and learn from it.
∑ Really listen to the feedback. Itís easy to fall into the trap of hearing what we want to hear or letting our thoughts jump straight to how we are going to respond or defend ourselves. Take a breath and really listen to what is being said.
∑ Resist the urge to defend. This is a natural reaction and a hard one to resist. Again, remember this is about improving, so resisting it means youíll miss a valuable learning experience.
∑ Assess the feedback. Do you think it is fair and reasonable? If so, then itís time to start planning how to address the feedback and improve. You can ask the person giving the feedback to help you improve, or to keep giving you feedback to track your improvement. If it is not fair and reasonable, i.e. itís a personal attack, then as hard as it is, try not to dwell on it. Address any personal relationship issues you have with the person that may have led to such feedback.
∑ Finally, whether you agree with the feedback or not, thank the person for his or her time and for being helpful to you.
Being on the receiving end of criticism can be difficult, but it can be just as difficult for the person giving it. Here are some tips for giving constructive feedback to others.
∑ Plan your feedback. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? Write it down and read it again later to make sure the message is coming across clearly and constructively. Ensure itís not a personal attack and there are clear examples to illustrate the points you are making.
∑ Donít give the feedback publically. Book a meeting room or go for a coffee. Itís best to do this face to face as anything in writing can get lost in translation. But if doing this in writing (e.g. for Performance Reviews), again ensure you read it before sending it.
∑ Ensure the feedback is framed in a positive light. Highlight the benefits of improving. Also start with a positive and acknowledge something positive they have done.
∑ Show respect to the receiver. Put yourself in their shoes. Donít judge their reaction as it may be hard for them. Let them get upset or take a moment before responding. Thank them for listening at the end and encourage them to give you feedback as well.
The more feedback a team can give to each other, the better. You can use a proper feedback tool as part of a regular performance review process, but you can also give feedback informally to your colleagues outside of formal review points.
In the end, think always positive!