Everyone has thoughts and feelings about feedback. For most people, the first and most prevalent thoughts about that idea are negative. Think about it – if someone says to you “I need to give you some feedback,” are you immediately jumping for joy? Most likely not. Given that initial reaction, how can we improve our feedback effectiveness so that people welcome the feedback we give them?
It’s Not Just About The Feedback
With a goal of greater feedback effectiveness, most people want to focus on techniques or finding the right language to use. People who earnestly want to improve in delivering feedback, ask using phrase like:
- How do I tell them …
- What should I say when …
- What if they don’t want to hear …
- I’ve already told them five times …
If we want people to welcome our feedback, the language we use is important, but not even close to being the most important consideration.
There are two factors, less often considered, but far more important. And both come before the delivery of the feedback happens.
- How people view us
- How people view our intentions
Let’s look at each.
How People View Us
Let’s think about when we have been thankful for feedback, when we welcomed it, and from whom we would be open to getting feedback from in the future. Is it because the person was a master wordsmith?
No, far more likely, it is based on how you view them. If you trust the other person, and/or believe they have credibility and expertise you are more likely to be open to and welcome their feedback. And possibly you are open to feedback from some based on their position – if your boss gives you feedback, you may not love what you hear, but you are likely interested in knowing what it is.
When we flip this insight around as a giver of feedback, we can see that feedback effectiveness depends a great deal on how people view us. To be more effective then means that we need to work on our credibility in the eyes of the receiver (do they see us as qualified to give them the feedback?) and our relationship with them (do they trust us and believe we want the best for them?).
The third factor of positional power applies in the workplace (or perhaps as a parent) is the least important of the three factors. Relying on it alone, will not automatically mean people will welcome your feedback (which I am sure your experience confirms).
Your intentions matter in two ways – both what they actually are, and how the other person sees them.
Ultimately, how the receiver views our intentions (why are they giving me this feedback?), matters most in terms of how they receive the feedback and potentially welcome future input from us. Their perception and belief is more important than we might initially realize.
While it is possible that people view our intentions differently than reality, the best thing we can do is make sure that our intentions are positive to start with. If you want to increase your feedback effectiveness, make sure that your feedback is meant to help them – not make you feel better. Make sure you are delivering it with positive intentions for them. When your intentions are positive and pure you will be more effective in selecting your words and relaying your message effectively.
When we remember that feedback effectiveness hinges on more than the words we use, we have a much better chance of success, and likely will be a bit less nervous in delivering the feedback. And when we see this more complete picture, we have a better chance of people accepting our feedback today, and welcoming more of it in the future.
Do you want to get better at all facets of delivering feedback – increasing your comfort, confidence, and effectiveness with this important skill? If so, the Giving Feedback Successfully Master Class is for you. You can learn more and get started here.