How do I give better feedback?

To give better feedback, consider the following steps and principles:

  1. Make Feedback Normal: Integrate feedback into the regular communication flow of your organization. This reduces the stress typically associated with feedback as it becomes a routine part of organizational life. Encourage frequent giving and receiving of feedback to foster a culture where feedback is expected and valued.

  2. Balance Feedback: Combine critical feedback with appreciation. This helps create an environment of safety and trust, which is conducive to the acceptance and integration of feedback.

  3. Be Mindful of Emotions: When delivering feedback, be specific about the behavior and its effects on you. Use "I" statements, such as "When you do [X], I feel [Y]," to express your feelings without making assumptions about the other person's intentions.

  4. Clarify Motivations: Understand your own motivations for giving feedback. Reflect on whether your feedback is influenced by a need for control or a preference for familiar behaviors. Honest self-assessment can help in delivering feedback that is constructive rather than controlling.

  5. Understand Recipient Goals: Align your feedback with the recipient's goals. Showing how their behavior may not be serving their intended outcomes can be a powerful motivator for change.

  6. Acknowledge Your Role: Consider how you may be contributing to the problem and share this insight during the feedback process. This can shift the conversation from blame to collaborative problem-solving.

  7. Avoid Triggering Threat Responses: Be aware of the SCARF model (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness) and avoid triggering social threats. For example, offer feedback in a way that doesn't diminish the other person's status, provide certainty about the content and consequences of the feedback, and respect their autonomy.

  8. Reframe the Experience: If feedback is painful, use cognitive reframing to understand and regulate distress. Recognize that feedback is data that includes both signal (useful information) and noise (irrelevant information).

  9. Build Relationships: Strengthen connections and trust over time to make feedback conversations more effective. In ongoing relationships, a deeper sense of connection facilitates better communication and acceptance of feedback.

  10. Use Structured Processes: Employ cues and procedures, like speaking in a predetermined order or using a timer, to ensure equitable participation and prevent any one individual from dominating the feedback process.

  11. Respond to Feedback: When receiving feedback, distinguish between easy changes you're willing to make, hard changes you're willing to attempt, and changes that are too costly or difficult. Acknowledge the request for change inherent in the feedback without feeling compelled to accept all of it.

  12. Follow-Up: Establish an ongoing dialogue and consistently follow up on feedback to ensure that it is integrated and addressed over time.

By employing these strategies, you can deliver feedback that is more likely to be received positively and lead to constructive change.