Giving and Receiving Feedback

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Feedback is constantly given and received.  If you want your feedback to be effective check the following list to ensure you are giving feedback appropriately and for the right reasons.

1.       Feedback is an opinion.

Whether you are giving or receiving feedback it is only one person’s opinion.  It is the perception of the person receiving the feedback that will determine the outcome.

Feedback can be used to redirect a behaviour that you would like to see reduced.
Eg. Feedback to a person answering a mobile phone during work time: “I like how you left your phone in your locker today so you just checked the messages on your break.  That means you can focus on your work without the interruption.”

Feedback can also be used to reinforce a behaviour you would like to see continued.
Eg. Feedback to a person who promptly answers the telephone: “It’s great how you answer the phone within three rings.  Our customers really appreciate your quick service.”

2.       Feedback needs to be specific.

For feedback to have a positive outcome it needs to identify the behaviour you want stopped or continued.  When giving feedback that is vague (eg. “That’s great” “Please stop that”), it is the person receiving the feedback will that will interpret what you do or do not want to happen.  This may be correct but can often be way off track.   Specific feedback is likely to be more effective.

3.       Feedback encompasses words, tone and body language.

Giving feedback requires a combination of words, tone and body language.  With the best type of feedback these will all work together.  Feedback via email and text only requires words and the occasional emoticon.  Not being able to hear the tone or see the accompanying body language can leave the recipient wondering the purpose of the feedback.  This often leads to misinterpretation.

Another type of feedback we often forget is silence.  The lack of response can hold enormous meaning for the person receiving the feedback.

4.       The communication style used is very important.

Everyone communicates in a different way and responds to different styles of feedback.  To make your feedback more effective use the communication style of the person receiving the feedback.  This may involve you changing your style so that the person receiving the feedback hears you.

5.       Feedback should be planned.

All feedback should have a purpose.  Know the purpose of the feedback and plan it.  Make sure it is well timed, contains only facts, listen to all responses and check your emotions.  Focussing on the behaviour and the positive outcome makes feedback easier to deliver.

6.       Always ask the person receiving feedback for their feedback first.

Before giving specific feedback ask the recipient for their feedback.  If they identify points you want to cover then it is more likely that you will get the desired outcome.  Don’t be your own worst critic.  Often that reinforcement or redirection is already there, it just needs some guidance or prompting.

7.       Focus on the behaviour or the situation.

Behaviours and situations can be changed.  This is what the feedback should target, providing guidance towards the desirable behaviour of situation.  Feedback should not be about personality traits.

8.       End on a positive note.

Everyone wants to be liked.   Before you give feedback
make sure you can finish on a positive point for the person
receiving the feedback.
  It needs to be specific and genuine. 
When a person is valued they are more likely to change
their behaviour after feedback.


Always remember the purpose for the feedback.  
Focussing on positive good points regularly will increase
the desired behaviour.
As Jim Rohn says: “A good objective of leadership is
to help those who are doing poorly to do well and
to help those who are doing well to do even better.”