Self Improvement

Feedback Fails

Do you offer advise, solicited or uninvited? Do you provide feedback to friends, colleagues, bloggers, writers, businesses, servers, legislators? How much drama is involved in the way you advise, criticize, or offer feedback? Does conflict arise when you provide helpful suggestions?

How do you receive input about what you are doing or should be doing? Are you grateful or resentful or ambivalent? It can be tough to take feedback that we hear as negative. When I hear advise that seems contrary to what I already believe I can get defensive. It has been years since I threw a big hissy fit but not that long ago I did a pretty good job of pouting.

Is there a better way to offer and receive frank observations?

Build a hero sandwich. When I was actively writing politicians and government departments, I crafted the hero sandwich every time. The meat of the messaging was surrounded with a positive message about how grateful or impressed I was with something that they were already doing. The meat in between was specific to the issue or expectation not pointed at a personality trait or characteristic.
I always am more receptive when offered the hero, even if I recognize the format. I feel the feedback is sincere and valuable if they are taking the time and care to think about what they want to share and hoe they are sharing.
As mentioned above I try to focus on the issue, the practice, the situation not the person. Ad hominum approaches can be forceful but are almost always hurtful. Rather than saying that a colleague is lazy it is better to suggest that delays or missed deadlines or incomplete assignments create difficulties for others.
Even when the feedback is difficult or specific to performance, a passive voice rather than active. Saying ” the data you provided was flawed” rather than you gave me bad data” will be received with less resentment.
I have felt deflated or challenged depending on how I heard the message.
If the issue or criticism is pointed towards performance I try to offer specific examples and specific remedies. When I have gotten a general review I usually don’t know what I am missing or how I can change.

Sometimes I am not ready or willing to hear anything. Not advise, suggestions, praise nor glowing reviews. I suspect that my gentlest and best framed feedback hasn’t always bee appreciated. I do appreciate having someone say ” I have some concerns, when would be a good time to have an honest discussion”. I haven’t used that approach but recognizing that it improves my reception, I will be sure to offer it in the next opportunity.

Is there feedback you should be providing? Have you asked someone to let you know what they think about something you are doing or creating? Do we all need trusted critics or honest confidants? My answers are yes,yes,yes.

Take the next opportunity to give better advise and receive advise better.


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