Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting the feedback you need, part of Communication Foundations (2013).
- Feedback is an unfortunate word for a great thing to do. In music or electronics, feedback is distorted sound, often annoying and screechy. Also, feedback has the word "back" in it. "I'm going to give you some feedback," like it's something you don't like and are returning or that it's pointing in reverse, backward. No wonder people often avoid giving and receiving feedback or don't do it well. Feedback needs a PR makeover. It needs to be re-branded, because it's so valuable.
It's the crucial tool for bridging the intent-impact gap, that communication nemesis we've been taking on throughout this course. Feedback gives us insight into the impact we're having and ways to make even more of the impact we want. That's the true function of feedback, Impact Insight. So bring a positive spirit to feedback conversations, invite it, let others know how much you welcome it, and value them for giving it. Make others as comfortable as possible giving you their insights into your impact.
Don't turn feedback into a thing, an intimidating, uncomfortable event. And sure there's a time and place for formal feedback but there are many more times and place for informal, on the fly, relationship positive discussions about the impact you're having. Make Impact Insight dialogues business as usual. Make them comfortable, upbeat conversations. For example, here's how you can ask for feedback, informally and naturally, without even using the word. Looking Back, "I'd really like to hear your impressions "about the impact when I..." then fill in the blank with whatever behaviors you want feedback about.
Your presentation or the way you handled an objection, etc. Or Going Forward, "I'd really like to hear "some of your insights about how I can..." And then fill in the blank with whatever suggestions you want from them. Simple, easy, upbeat. Remember, many people are uncomfortable giving feedback. Even people with more status, authority, or power. They might fear conflict or want to avoid you thinking badly of them or saying negative things to others. You want to make it as easy, comfortable, and safe as possible, even for your manager and others with authority, to give you full, open, honest feedback.
If you think others might be uncomfortable about sharing their thoughts, you can lead by example. Show them how to do it by volunteering something you're working on. Let them know that you know it could be better. Give them permission. You can say, "One thing I want to do even better "is handle tough questions on the spot. "I know I could've done better in that meeting this morning. "Give me a hand, what did you see, "what could I have done differently?" Go more than halfway in their direction to make them feel at ease instead of at risk. And as they give you their perspective, Show positive body language, Nod, Make eye contact, Say things like, "Yes, I see..." to signal to them that you really mean it.
Lots of people say they want feedback but then act like they don't by resisting, objecting, defending, or even getting angry. Don't object, explain, or defend yourself. You can ask clarifying questions but let them know the reason you're asking is only to ensure that you understand them. You can decide what to do with the feedback later but make sure you understand it first. Even if you don't necessarily agree with what they say, you want to encourage them to be open with you and be willing to do it again. Otherwise, we grow a huge blind spot exactly where we can't afford it, on the other side of the intent-impact gap.
At the end, always say thank you. Even if it was a tough conversation say, "I have to admit this is tough to hear "and I need to process it but I really appreciate "you letting me know your thoughts. "That's valuable to me, thank you." If you don't say thank you, the impact on them might be that you're upset with them, even if that's not your intent. Then they won't give you their insights next time and your impact blind spot grows and grows more dangerous for you. Don't leave any room for misunderstanding. Even if it's difficult to hear, tell them you appreciate they shared it.
Also, if you show appreciation, you'll be doing your part to give feedback the image makeover it needs, for your benefit. You'll encourage people to continue being open with you instead of keeping it to themselves until it's too late for you to fix it. So do yourself a favor and give feedback a better name by 1. Creating comfortable conversations to invite feedback, 2. Asking for insights about what you've done recently and what you can do going forward, and 3. Putting a genuine thank you at the end.
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- Managing the intent-impact gap
- Designing the content of your message
- Improving vocal delivery
- Adjusting your body language
- Being politically savvy
- Listening to what's said, what's unsaid, and how it's said
- Increasing empathy and trust
- Overcoming anxiety<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.