Giving Feedback: Techniques for Effective Improvement
Posted by Anni M.
Giving good feedback can be just as difficult as receiving it. When you see a co-worker struggling with a project, it’s natural to want to help. But often your suggestions fall on a deaf ear. You may anger your co-worker or he may get defensive or upset. You may also feel insecure about your own advice. Are you really qualified to comment on someone else’s work? Is your opinion going to help make the work better or are you just muddying the waters. Do you offer help or hang back? You want to be a team player but you don’t want to rock the boat. You may find yourself paralyzed by your indecision, unsure of how to approach your peer and unsure of your own objectivity. But collaborative feedback is a critical part of successful growth. We can’t learn without hearing the opinions of others. Our work suffers when we rely to heavily on ourselves. So how do you walk that fine line—offering feedback that is appropriate (and appropriately received)? Here are some tips.
Ask for permission. Before you offer any unsolicited advice, ask if it’s okay for you to offer it. If your co-worker says yes, you’ve already sidestepped a whole class of potential problems. He knows your advice is coming and he has verbally accepted it. He is prepared for feedback and is committed to listening. Now, if he gets defensive or angry, he only has himself to blame.
Use the sandwich technique. The way we say things is almost as important as what we say. Sandwich your constructive criticism between two pieces of praise. For example, compliment your co-worker on his use of language, then make a suggestion for improvement, then compliment him on his succinct last paragraph. If you include two pieces of praise for every piece of criticism, it’s much easier to make your co-worker feel valued, and to make him feel like his work is good and only needs small improvements.
Be precise. Feedback should be clear and unambiguous. Don’t just make a blanket statement about the work, make a specific comment about a sentence or paragraph. Saying, “it’s not forceful enough,” or, “I don’t think you’re language is clear,” is much less helpful than, “the first sentence needs to be more direct.” The more concrete your feedback, the more likely your co-worker will be to respond.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..