Something we’ve been talking about a lot lately is one of my very favorite F-words: Feedback!
Why is giving (and receiving) feedback so scary and painful for so many of us? A lot of people say they don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. My response to that is usually something like, “aren’t you hurting them more by not telling them?”
Feedback Enables Growth
How can we ever improve if nobody is willing to give us feedback? I guess it’s possible. But it feels like we could really help each other grow if we all could learn how to become more comfortable giving feedback in a positive and direct way. I always appreciate customers who give us honest opinions; we can work with that. It’s nearly impossible to ensure customer success if we don’t get that valuable feedback.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few techniques to help me feel more comfortable having those potentially difficult conversations.
First, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
The first thing I do, before I even consider giving feedback, is to run it through these three questions:
- Will this feedback help them grow? The answer must be, “YES!”
- Am I coming from a place of care? Again, the answer must be, “Yes!”
- Am I being too critical? This answer should be, “No!”
Then, I move on to the action steps for giving feedback.
Give Feedback ASAP
Feedback is only helpful if you talk about it while it is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Nothing is worse than somebody coming up to you and saying, “Six months ago you did xyz…” Nobody appreciates that—or even remembers what they did that long ago. (I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast!) So, waiting to give feedback is pretty much setting yourself up for a pointless conversation.
Ask If It’s Okay
Asking the person if you can give some feedback allows them to feel like they can decide if, and when, they want to have that conversation—and it helps them prepare for it. Sometimes, in that moment, they might not have time, or maybe they aren’t in a good mental place. Offering a heads-up helps create the right environment for feedback.
Always Follow Up
If you give somebody feedback, and you truly care about their growth, check in with them later on to see if they have any questions. Ask if your feedback was useful—and if there is anything you can do to help. To me, follow-up is an essential part of giving feedback in the first place!
When It Comes to Feedback, Sharing IS Caring
I read a book many years ago, Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny. If you’re looking for guidance to help you have hard conversations and to give constructive feedback, I highly recommend this book.
Feedback is so important to growth—whether giving or receiving. If we really care about other people, we should help them by giving open, honest, and constructive feedback. All it takes is a little bit of preparation—and courage—to help others grow. And that’s why feedback is my absolute, favorite F-word!
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