Feedback: a gift or a curse?

Feedback is very important, just about everyone knows this. But not everyone loves to give feedback and even fewer people enjoy receiving it. People can get a flight or fight response when faced with a situation where feedback would be appropriate. They are afraid of critiquing others or are afraid of being critiqued. When people are nervous giving feedback the fight or flight response gets worse.

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.”
– Ed Batista

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Feedback is about behavior in a specific situation. You are not there to pass judgement on a person as a whole. You are not even there to pass judgement at all. You are there because you feel there is an opportunity to learn for both you and the other person. Your feedback should not be about you getting the desired ourcome (change of behavior in the other person), but about the two of you learning from this situation. It can be that during your feedback conversation the other person is giving responses that give you a deeper insight in their behavior. Maybe your desired ourcome is not as desired anymore. 

If you are receiving feedback and feel attacked try to listen. If you doubt the intentions of the other person ask them why it matters to them (but listen first). You do not have to answer to the feedback immediately, sometimes it is better to think about it for a while. You do however have to acknowledge the risk the person took with giving feedback and thank them for their time and trouble. You can also use the moment to brainstorm together for solutions. 

I love this Ted Talk about feedback and highly recommend it to anyone who gets nervous giving and receiving feedback. 

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I used to be extremely nervous when giving feedback. Once i started practicing i got less nervous over (a lot of) time. I always asked people afterwards if they were okay with me giving them feedback (i was usually to nervous to do so before hand). I was afraid that the other person would think i was attacking them and that they would not like or trust me anymore afterwards. So i practiced on safe people first. People with who my relationship was strong enough to survive poorly given feedback. As it urned out it helped when i told people i was a bit scared to give them feedback, because i do not want to hurt them. Now i am in a place where i can confidently give feedback woth the disclaimers in afvance.

 “Examine what is said and not who speaks.”

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Receiving feedback was also a big stress. I felt (unfairly) singled out and attacked. I was really insecure about myself and my performance. But i was sure I did the best I could. The funny thing is, me doing my best was never in doubt and never what the feedback was about. It was always about ways to be more effective. But since i immediately went on the defense i could not really listen. After a couple of really frustrating feedback moments (people definitely did not understand me or my intentions) i started to reflect on what happened each and every time to leave me so very exhausted and on the fence. I talked to people who gave me feedback some time ago to figure out their intentions. This gave me the insight that feedback is not a bad performance review. It is about colleagues who care enough about me to want me to grow. I wish you all a great jour ey towards joyful and purposeful feedback.

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”
– Paul J. Meyer

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