If you have a goal to improve your social-emotional skills, it’s essential to know how to give and receive honest feedback.
Suppose you are seeking feedback from your boss or peers. In that case, feedback helps you learn the right or better way to evolve your approaches, behaviors, skills, and abilities.
Feedback is vital for correcting work, reducing errors, and preventing regrets or failures. By creating a transparent and honest communication flow, feedback helps with personal growth and teamwork.
Understand that feedback from others is not always just about you and your skills. Another person’s assessment is how they view your approach to your work, your skills, and behaviors through their lens. Therefore, you can take in the feedback as a gift and decide what to do to achieve your goals.
Here are some tips for getting and receiving feedback:
Be upfront about the kind of feedback you want.
To increase your chances of getting the honest truth, let people know they’re doing you a favor by being truthful. If you want people to feel free to give you feedback that may be difficult to hear, make sure they have explicit permission from you to do so. This won’t guarantee an honest response, but it will create a space where they will feel more comfortable to do so.
Focus on the future and listen without judgment. Rather than get caught up in prior problems and mistakes, listen without judgment for feedback that will help you as you move forward.
Be sure you get the feedback correctly. If you are confused and need more information, probe deeply into the feedback. Ask questions to clearly understand the what, the why, and the how without getting defensive. It helps ensure that you fully understand the feedback as the other person intends. Try saying, “So what you want me to understand is…” then fill in the blank with what you heard. This gives that person a chance to clarify and helps you make sure you’re acting on the correct information. Then, write down what you heard so you can reflect on it later.
Give yourself time to take in the feedback. Evaluate the feedback based on your knowledge of the situation. Decide if it is valid, partially valid, or not helpful, and act based on that decision. Consider how this information helps you focus on what you need and the positive impact on others. If you’re feeling down, take some time away from thinking about the feedback until you can look at it more objectively.
Here are some tips for giving feedback:
If you are a supervisor, manager, or leader, providing honest feedback involves recognizing others when they do good work and, occasionally, when they make a mistake. This helps the others understand what they did wrong and correct the error. Honest feedback also requires constructive feedback. Constructive feedback helps identify solutions for areas of weakness and comes with positive intentions. As you consider giving honest feedback and how best to make yourself heard without being offensive, think about what has worked best for you when receiving feedback.
First, ask what kind of feedback the person wants.
This will work in your favor if you say something negative and the other person responds poorly. When you can gently remind them, “You told me you wanted to know what I really thought,” it can help them reconsider their response.
Be gentle with your feedback.
If you have something negative to say, there’s no need to be hurtful or harsh when you’re saying something that might offend the person to whom you are giving feedback. Speak quietly, make eye contact, and give the person time to absorb what you’re saying.
Be calm and thoughtful if you have criticism to share.
When you give criticism, it can be easy to just tell someone what they’re doing makes your life more difficult. If you’re angry or frustrated with the person, it isn’t the time or place where they will be able to hear you. Walk away from the confrontation. Wait until your emotions are under control first. Don’t make the issue all about you. Instead, find objective reasons to question their behavior and provide them with time to think and respond to your feedback.
Give positive feedback.
It’s easier to hear negative feedback when there’s some positive mixed in, too. The more specific the positive feedback, the more genuine it will feel to the person receiving it, and the more open they’ll be to the other things you have to say, too.
Giving and getting honest feedback is a gift that can positively help you and others.