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Giving Great Feedback

Whether or not you give feedback regularly, there are some steps everyone can take to give great feedback when needed.

feedback

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.

Margaret Cousins

“Can I give you some feedback?” Why is it when we hear that question, we freeze and tell ourselves something bad is coming?

I have grown to really appreciate feedback…at least the type of feedback that is very constructive with suggestions on how I might change my behavior for the better. I believe we always have the choice to listen to the feedback and start to take the action steps to change or just say “Thank you for the feedback” and decide it was valuable, but decide not to change. My choice.

Good feedback can also be very empowering. In his book Art of Leadership, J. Donald Walters points out just some of the ways a really good leader can use feedback.

  • Try always to strengthen others in their work, in their creativity, and in their qualities of leadership.
  • Encourage them in their projects.
  • Allow them to learn by their mistakes.
  • Be willing to compromise.  Don’t ask more of people than they are able to deliver; or, if you do, stretch their horizons gradually.
  • Invite their support; don’t commandeer it.

I believe that great feedback is possible even if you need to deliver some very challenging feedback.

Here are 10 steps to giving great feedback, both challenging and appreciative:

  1. Develop an outline and write down key messages.
  2. Be sure to gather specific examples and facts.
  3. Be sure to explain the impact of the behavior on you.
  4. Answer the questions: What do I want for me in this conversation? What do I want for the other person? What do I want for our relationship?
  5. Understand the person’s communication style and anticipate their questions and reactions.
  6. Focus on results and behaviors, not the emotions and personalities. Principles before personalities.
  7. Be sure to acknowledge accomplishments. One can always find something to appreciate in another human being.
  8. Give specific examples of how to improve, if appropriate.
  9. Listen actively.
  10. Communicate your support in helping the individual change their behavior. Follow through on any promised you made to help.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.

Albert Schweitzer

Written by Pat Obuchowski

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