Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video How to give great feedback, part of Communication Foundations (2013).
- [Voiceover] Giving feedback shouldn't be like making someone take medicine. It should be like offering a person something good to drink. It should be value-adding, relationship-enhancing, and you should feel good about giving it. Feedback should always be helpful and it doesn't always have to be critical. Give plenty of positive feedback, not just corrective feedback. You don't want a reputation as someone who only shows up when something's wrong. This comes up in my coaching, the person who's quick to point out problems, but has little to say when things are going well.
One leader I coached even started noticing when he approached people they often winced and asked preemptively, "What is it now?" And no shortcuts. Don't stack a few good things just to get to the bad. Saying to someone, "Nice shoes, clean shirt, close shave. "(Mumbles), okay, let me tell you how you screwed up." That's not what to do. Consistently look for genuine opportunities to accentuate the positive in real time, that's what to do. Build a reputation for appreciation. We're drawn to people who see us at our best.
Catch people making progress, notice when they do well, and let them know it. But even when giving corrective feedback, your mission is always to help. It's always to add value. If it's corrective feedback, give it in private. Pick a suitable time and place for the conversation. Set a helpful tone. Make it explicit, say, "There's something I want to share "with you and I'll think you'll find it valuable." When you give feedback, and this applies both to positive and corrective feedback, follow these four steps. Step one, state a specific behavior instead of an opinion, judgement, or feeling you have.
Example, don't say, "You're not a good listener." Rather say, "In this morning's meeting, before Marie "finished her second point, you said, "'I've got a different idea,' and you continued talking." That way it's not an opinion or generalization, it's specific, it's factual. Next, step two, clarify the impact of the behavior on you or others. Don't say, "People think you're really rude." Rather say, "I didn't get to hear Marie's point "and the rest of the team missed it too." After that, step three, listen, hear the person out.
Dialogue with them to understand their reaction and acknowledge their intent, which was probably different from the impact. Be open, be interested, listen, connect. Your counterpart might need time to absorb and integrate your message intellectually and emotionally. Partner with them in the discussion. You're not focusing on what they did wrong, you're trying to help them achieve the positive impact they want, and you want too. Then, step four, ask them if they're open to suggestions if you have them, or offer to brainstorm alternatives with them.
Help them like a partner, not a critic. Remember, even if you're a little nervous about delivering the feedback, you're not there just to deliver information. You're there to add value. You want to have a positive impact. You want the person and your relationship coming out better because of this conversation. You want them to appreciate you took the time, made the effort and treated them with dignity and respect. So when you're delivering tough news, put thought and effort into what it's like for them to receive it and make it clear in your words and body language that your intention is to help.
Let's put it into action. Next time you give feedback follow the four steps. Even if it's critical feedback, give it in a way that they'll welcome your insights again next time. Give it in a way they can feel good about receiving. Don't give feedback like awful medicine. Give it like a good drink.
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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.