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Julita Hajtko

The power of feedback

Feedback is considered one of the most powerful factors in the communication process, practiced not only in business but also in a private life. For example, if you ask a colleague to write an email to a client and they say ‘OK’ and nod their head, that’s one form of feedback indicating they understand and agree. Would you be confident that the task would be done if you heard silence and saw inaction instead? That`s barely possible…

Why is feedback so important?

Feedback is the final step and a key to communication process since it can help minimise misinterpretation and errors. Without it, the sender of a message cannot know whether the receiver has accepted or understood the message. Depending on the feedback, the sender can clarify or adjust the way they transmit the message. This is applicable to all forms of communication – face-to-face, by telephone, e-mail, or in correspondence. There is one more skill that makes feedback successful – listening; it is impossible to give an effective feedback without having comprehensively listened to the message.

Why to use feedback?

Giving feedback is a skill relatively easy to acquire, it engages people and gives immediate results! It is some kind of the mirror of communication and can be used to check what has been communicated. It is a straightforward process: the sender will transmit the message; the receiver gets the message, decodes it and provides feedback in response to the message they have received. Let`s remember that for communication to be effective, there must be a two-way process. Feedback controls, strengthens and encourages the communication process by forcing a two-way process.

How to give feedback?

Although feedback is usually given verbally, it can be also expressed with body language or mimics. A nod or a curious look or even a frown are all indirect methods of feedback. The sender constantly adjusts transmission of the message in response to the feedback received to ensure that the right message is passed. Feedback also warns the sender to any noise that may be hinder the reception of the message.

There is a set of golden rules if it comes to giving feedback:

  • Make it a positive experience.

The purpose of giving feedback is to improve communication or the person’s performance, which can`t be accomplished by being offensive or harsh. You are likely to get more involvement and attention from people when your approach is positive and focused on improvement. It does not necessarily mean that feedback always has to be good, but it should be fair and balanced.

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.
– Frank A. Clark

  • Be timely.

It`s highly recommended not to procrastinate when addressing the issue, but to react in a timely manner. If the situation is highly emotional, wait until everyone has calmed down before you engage in feedback.

  • Make it regular.

Feedback is an ongoing process, not a one-time action. Whether formally or informally, when something needs to be said, say it.

  • Be specific.

Stick to facts and provide context for the topic at hand not to leave any room for ambiguity. Try to eliminate emotions and don`t resort to words like “never”, “all,” and “always” because the person will most likely get defensive.

  • Recognise in public, criticise in private.

While recognising people in public is appreciated and motivating, public scrutiny – not at all. Be emphatic.

  • Give feedback from your perspective.

Talk about your perspective, explain the impact one`s behaviour had on you. Avoid generalisation and use ‘I’ statements.

  • Talk about positives!

Make friends with the Sandwich Technique. Start and finish with positive aspects. Appreciation keeps people motivated.

  • Come up with a remediation plan.

Make sure both sides know what needs to be done to improve the situation. Set SMART goals and make plans to monitor and evaluate progress.

  • Follow up.

The whole purpose of feedback is to improve communication or performance. You need to monitor if that is happening and alter plans if necessary.

feedback

If you are eager to release the power of feedback, follow the hints below:

  • Make sure that feedback is helpful and constructive, not injurious.
  • Try to give feedback promptly.
  • Be specific.
  • The sender should ask if there are any questions or ask the recipient of the message to rephrase the message to make sure that it has been understood.
  • The receiver should ask questions and repeat the key points. Paraphrasing is a crucial method to make sure that the message has been correctly understood.
  • Listen and be receptive to what the other person is saying. Search for meaning in the message.
  • Maintain attention using non-verbal communication such as nodding, eye contact or appropriate facial expressions.
  • Try not to plan what you are going to say next while the other person is still speaking, as this will detract from receipt of the full message.
  • Restrain yourself from criticising or judging until the other person has completed their message. The evaluation made too early will limit the chances of hearing the message accurately.

At the end of the day…

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
– Ken Blanchard

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