Hello SOTGC community,
We all have been in the situation of getting feedback from our colleagues or supervisors and sure enough have given feedback to someone else. The feelings associated with feedback may vary between feeling grateful and optimistic to feeling unappreciated, misunderstood or even hurt. Feedback is a powerful and very effective tool – however at the same time it is that one tool that is most often used incorrectly. Let me show you the idea behind feedback and the correct steps of using it!
Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, two American psychologists, came up with a model in 1955 illustrating and explaining self-awareness and mutual understanding between individuals within a group. The Johari window (as it is called) shows four different perspectives classified by what is known or unknown to a person and to others in a group.
The first perspective is called the open area and contains the information that is equally known by the person himself/herself and others.
The second perspective includes everything that is unknown by the person himself/herself but known by others and is called the blind spot.
The third perspective is called the hidden area and refers to everything that the person knows about himself/herself that others don’t know.
Last but not least the fourth perspective – the unknown area – covers matters that neither the person himself/herself nor others know about them.
Feedback now docs on the blind spot – showing others something about themselves that they haven’t been aware of so far by informing them our observations. Making something transparent for the person receiving feedback offers the opportunity of enlarging the open area and therefore their chance of actively working on their behavior. Feedback is therefore first of all a response for someone else about our observations – nothing more. Feedback is not intended for simple reproval or for trying to change someone – that is up to the decision of that person receiving feedback. There is even an ethic code for feedback in order to make it as effective as possible. Feedback should be given out of the first person and should only include our observations. Above all, feedback should be honest and respecting.
So what are the correct steps for giving feedback to someone?
Take your time to prepare
Preparation is essential in order to give a well-structured feedback and to only state the most important things. Make a list of observations that positively influence the project or the working progress. Furthermore you should also make a list of things that you find hindering in reaching the goal. It is important that you limit yourself to observations from the near past and make them as precise as possible. Then list your feelings that this certain behavior triggers in you and which behavior you would wish for instead.
Catch eye contact with the person you would like to give feedback to. After that make sure you ask the person if he or she is ready to receive your feedback. There are situations where we catch someone under stress and they might decline our offer. It is important to accept that and get in touch with that person to another point in time. Feedback can only be effective when that person has the time to listen to what we say.
Positive – negative – positive
When giving feedback we should make sure to start off with an observation of something positive. That gives our feedback receiver a good feeling and an open-mindedness for everything else that follows. After a positive observation go ahead with something that you observed as negative or hindering for the project. Finish off your observations with yet another positive aspect that you noticed.
Your feelings and wishes
Complete your feedback by letting the person know what your feelings are concerning the observations you made. It is important to phrase your feelings only in first person – never say anything like “You made me feel like…” or “You always do things like that…”. Also, go ahead and phrase the behavior that you wish for instead with sentences like “Instead I would wish that…” or “I would welcome if…”
What if YOU are the one receiving feedback?
Be ready to receive feedback and let your feedback sender know if you do not have the time or are under stress. When hearing the observations that the other person made, it is important to just listen and not start with justifications or excuses. You may certainly however ask questions if you do not understand the observations being made. Try to reflect what the other person just told you and take your time to think about what they said. Finish off with thanking them for their feedback and their time. The decision of whether you would like to take that feedback as an opportunity to change something is completely up to you.
Last but not least
Try to practice giving and receiving feedback as often as possible. You will notice that many communication problems can be dissolved or even prevented when we take the time for each other. Feedback is a really powerful tool and our best chance to develop new behaviors and thinking patterns – give it a try and be open-minded!
What are your experiences with feedback? Let me know your ups and downs and what worked well for you!