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How To Give And Receive Feedback

Written by: Nicole Lucas, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Feedback is an art form, one that many dabble in, but may never master. In this article, we’ll explore the art of giving and receiving feedback, so that you can approach these conversations with confidence.

Have you ever looked up the definition of feedback? It is defined as:


Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.


This definition makes the concept of feedback seem harmless, doesn’t it? However, it’s interesting how often feedback registers in people’s minds as: "I'm not doing a good job.” When that happens, feedback doesn’t feel harmless or helpful, it can feel like a personal attack.


Why do people often feel this way when they’re on the receiving end of feedback? Many would say this because they rarely hear feedback unless something goes wrong or could have gone better; hence the need for improvement, as the definition stated.


What this usually means is that while people are hearing feedback in the form of critique: “Next time, I’ll need you to do these things better.” They’re not hearing the other side–feedback in the form of encouragement: “You did this so well. I’m proud of you for XYZ.”


The truth about feedback is that it's so necessary for our development in life and work and yet it's the one thing most of us don't want to hear. Unless it's good feedback, of course. Then we want to hear it; we need to hear it, and we get frustrated when people withhold it.


Both forms of feedback–critique and encouragement–are necessary and have the ability to help us immensely, so long as the feedback giver and receiver know how to utilize the information for good.


So while we all get frustrated by feedback now and then, at the end of the day, we have to let feedback move us to positive action.

1. Don’t withhold feedback


When was the last time you looked someone in the eyes, leaned forward, and told them they were doing a great job? I hope you can recall a recent interaction that resembles what I described. When was the last time your manager did this with you? If so, can you recall how that moment made you feel? What thoughts flooded your mind? Did it put wind in your sails? Did it make you feel seen and appreciated and motivated to keep doing purposeful work? Did it give you the confidence to step into something new?


Feedback can do all of those things—when it’s given. This kind of feedback comes in the form of encouragement, appreciation, and recognition.


How often do you take the time to notice the work that your team does and then specifically point out the goodness and intentionality that they put into it? This kind of feedback leads to positive action because it is said with heartfelt appreciation and specificity. When this happens, your people can then harness your encouragement and filter it back into their work and back into the culture of the organization.


Feedback in the form of critique, without the nutrients that comes from feedback in the form of encouragement, creates a malnourished person. Don’t withhold encouragement from your people.


2. Give feedback with truth and kindness


When it comes to feedback in the form of critique, remember this: Speak the truth in love. In other words, do tell people the truth–tell them the ways they need to improve–but do so with kindness. Truth and kindness can and should coexist together, and when you combine the two, it leads people to positive action–inspiring them to see opportunity instead of failure.


3. Seek to understand


When you’re on the receiving end of feedback, resist the urge to immediately give the other person a reason for why a certain thing happened or why something wasn’t your fault. Defense is the usual immediate response–when people do this they’re trying to prevent being blamed or critiqued for something that went wrong or could have gone better. I’d like to propose instead that when you are on the receiving end of feedback you take an offensive approach–try to take that feedback and work to make something good out of it. Seeking to understand means taking feedback and investigating more about what someone saw or heard and then figuring out how to take what you discovered and apply it to your life or work.


4. Be open-minded and open-handed


The idea of accepting and applying feedback can be easier said than done, especially when you don't agree. When you find yourself in these situations, I encourage you to remember this: when feedback about the same thing keeps popping up, then it is wise to ask, "What if I’m missing something?"


This is the idea of being open-minded and open-handed. It has to do with understanding that no matter how skilled we are at our jobs, sometimes we miss things, and sometimes we get tunnel vision and need someone with fresh eyes or ears to hear and then speak up about the things that we’re missing. A humble leader asks, “What if I’m missing something?” Then they do the work of investigating and discerning if/how to apply the feedback accordingly.


Recap


Feedback givers, don’t withhold appreciation, encouragement, and recognition from your team. Speak the truth and be kind–the two can and should coexist together. Give feedback in such a way that it leads people to positive action. Inspire them to see opportunity, not failure.


Feedback receivers, seek to understand the feedback given to you. Don’t play defense, play offense. Be open-minded and open-handed. If you get feedback that you don’t agree with, remember that it never hurts to ask, “What if I’m missing something?” Then do the work of discerning your next steps.


Lastly, if you want help developing your leadership skills, visit my website to learn more about the ways I can help you take your life and leadership to the next level. You don’t need a formal education to lead a team or to navigate situations confidently, you just need a leadership coach that can teach you how to become an influential leader that people will love to follow. I can help. Let’s get started!


Follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. Listen every Monday to The Coffee and Creative Leadership Podcast for more insights on leadership and team culture development.


 

Nicole Lucas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nicole Lucas, is the Founder and CEO of The Creative Level, a leadership coaching and consulting agency with the mission of helping individuals and teams reach the next level in their life and leadership. She is also the creator and host of the Coffee and Creative Leadership Podcast. With a Bachelor of Science in Leadership and over a decade of experience in leading individuals and teams, Nicole finds great joy in providing people with the essential and practical tools to become healthy and skilled influential leaders.

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