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10 Tips to Giving and Receiving Feedback

By Brenda Edwards

Evaluations are like report cards. They are perceived as an indicator of performance and, as such, a great amount of importance may be placed on an evaluation. However, the purpose of an evaluation is multi-pronged. It is to provide feedback, celebrate victories and growth, present areas of opportunity and to plan. If there has been consistent and open feedback, there should never be a surprise in an evaluation. Giving and receiving feedback is a skill, which can be improved and honed.

  1. Be open and not defensive to feedback. This is consistently difficult, as people may process the feedback as an attack. Fully listen, even if receiving critical and negative feedback. After listening – ask for clarification, confirm what was said, breathe deeply and allow time to process the feedback before responding.
  2. Provide meaningful feedback. Not providing meaningful feedback is a disservice to all involved. Giving overly positive or consistently negative feedback also creates problems. There are numerous examples of an employee receiving only positive performance evaluations and feedback until they day they were terminated for performance issues! On the flip side, traits of a “bad boss” usually include constantly criticizing the employee.
  3. Both the giver and receiver of feedback may be nervous and uncomfortable. Be mindful that it is difficult for both.
  4. If giving negative feedback, always seek to leave the person who is receiving the feedback with their dignity intact. Walk in their shoes.
  5. Watch tone and body language whether giving or receiving feedback. It is not the words; rather it is how they are delivered – or received – that will create either a positive or negative emotional impact.
  6. E-mail is not the vehicle to provide negative feedback. It is a face to face conversation. While the relative ease of using social media and electronic communication has empowered some to hide while delivering snarky and hurtful communications, it doesn’t make it right.
  7. Consider the relationship, stakes of the conversation and desired outcome before providing feedback.
  8. Be specific and concise. Generalizations lessen, and in some cases, negate the message. Use of words such as “always”, “never”, “all” and “everyone” are not credible and disempower the conversation.
  9. Feedback is not opportunity to provide advice or “you should” to the other person. If they request coaching, then the communication dynamic shifts.
  10. Deliver positive feedback freely and often. Practice giving positive feedback at least 3 times, and optimally 6 times, more often than negative feedback! The brain processes, stores and remembers negative in more detail than positive.

Feedback is a vital process. Companies and individuals who foster positive and healthy relationships consistently give and receive positive, constructive feedback.

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