What makes feedback good? In her blog post “The Importance of Feedback,” Lisa B. Marshall shares more than a few tidbits about the importance of feedback.
“Feedback from others is the fastest way to improve. It’s how we learn and excel. Feedback motivates us and helps us to make course corrections.” “It’s critically important to understand that the MAIN idea behind feedback is to MOTIVATE behavior.” No matter where you are or what you’re up to, feedback is good feedback if it improves and motivates.
If there is good feedback, it stands to reason there is also bad feedback. Patricia Fripp and Darren LaCroix walk us through how to recognize and reject unhelpful feedback. Their ideas boil down to this: consider how the feedback will affect your presentation. Does it make your presentation more like you or less like you? Because at the end of the day, a successful presentation is the one you deliver, not the one your presenter alter-ego delivers. (Read our complete guide on feedback: The Ultimate Guide to Feedback for Educators)
Giving feedback, handling feedback and finding feedback
Recently, Harvard Business Review published three articles that focused on different aspects of feedback in the workplace: giving feedback, handling negative feedback, and finding feedback.
In “How to Give Tough Feedback That Helps People Grow,” Monique Valcour walks us through some of the challenges of giving tough feedback, points out some common misconceptions (feedback sandwich, anyone?), and lays out the best path for delivering the tough love. It sounds pretty similar to one of our feedback duo: “The challenge is [giving tough feedback] in a way that motivates change instead of making the other person feel defensive.”
But what if you’re the on the other end of tough feedback? How do you handle the criticism?
In his HBR article, Dick Grote writes, “Unless you have spent a little time in advance thinking about what you’ll do the next time that—fairly or foully—someone delivers some unexpected criticism, all the good advice you’ve heard about how to react won’t come immediately to mind.”
Prepare now to receive some negative vibes and plan out how you’ll handle them. Grote offers the following suggestions:
Remember that “even though negative feedback may be badly delivered, it may be accurate.”
“Consider the source, and take it with a grain of salt.”
“Listen to the other person without planning [your] reply.”
“[Ask] questions [to help] eliminate the appearance of defensiveness.”
And then there are those times where we’re ready for a little help and all we hear is crickets.
In their article “How to Get Feedback When No One Is Volunteering It,” Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick tackle the best ways to get the feedback you need. Their #1 piece of advice, though, “is to make the person giving you feedback comfortable.” Let your coworker, your supervisor, parent, or friend know “that you are ready to hear what they have to say.”
Feedback is an important form of communication
It takes a little work on your part, but as Willyerd and Mistick point out, “Like mining for surface diamonds in a public park, feedback is often waiting for us if we’re willing to put in a little effort.”
Feedback is one of the most important forms of communication. From the stage to the office, it should have a prominent role in how we develop our skills. Sometimes we have to critique to help others; other times we’re the ones getting critiqued. And then there are times we have to find someone willing to critique us. But at all times, the best feedback improves and motivates.
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Glen Thaxton teaches business communication at Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business. He is a versatile professional with over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, strategic promotional development, support, and training. Aside from exceeding multi-million dollar sales quotas, Glen is also an expert on understanding customers and has spoken to numerous associations and groups nationwide. He also enjoys spending time with his amazing wife and his five wonderful children.