What is feedback?

Feedback is information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task or behavior which is used as a basis for improvement.

 “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”- Bill Gates

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A great way to give feedback

You know that gut feeling. Something is off or could have gone better in a certain situation with person x. You are afraid it may happen again, but not sure how to prevent it from happening again. Use feedback! 

  • Preparation is key
  • Separate observation from interpretation
  • Describe the consequences of the behavior
  • Be open about how it made your feel
  • Give an example of what behavior would have helped you
  • Be prepared that the other may not recognize your feedback.

The purpose of feedback is not to get your way. It is to strengthen the work environment. I always try to work in a compliment. I usually do so after the giving feedback, especially if someone is very nervous receiving feedback. I want them to remember the compliment as welk as the feedback.

Giving feedback in 5 steps

When giving feedback goes wrong..

It usually goes wrong when you are not able to seperate observation from interpretation. It can also go wrong when feedback is generalized instead of made specific.

Some examples:

  1. While i was giving my presentation on our sales revenues you were talking to your neighbor. (observation and specific) 
  2. You were disruptive and rude by talking during my presentation about sales revenues. (interpretation and specific)
  3. You came in late today and walked in while still talking on your phone. (observation and specific)
  4. You are always late and feel you can get away with it. (interpretation and generalized).
  5. We all feel that you need to show up on time. You are always late. (Interpretation, generalization and as a bonus bringing in ither people)

Statements 2, 4 and 5 are much more likely to get a defensive response. While statements 1 and 3 may still get you a defensive response or excuses/reasons for the behavior you are less likely to end up in a stand off. 

How to receive feedback

Equally hard as giving feedback, but it can be very rewarding to receive feedback well. It all starts with being honest with yourself when you feel defensive. 

  • Let the other talk and listen to what they say. They will probably be nervous as well so try to be forgiving if something does not come across right. 
  • Focus on the message not on the delivery.
  • Summarize the feedback as a way to check if you have understood the feedback.
  • If you need time to process the feedback say so and ! let the feedback giver know you will get back to them (if they want to) once you have had some time.
  • You can work together on solutions.
  • If you want to you can give the person permission to give you feedback more often.
Receive feedback


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