Effective Feedback can be challenging and constantly in question. However, here is my list of qualities that you should keep in mind when conversing with your superior, a colleague, your team, or your spouse.
- Be descriptive and specific.
- Avoid both defensiveness and accusations.
- Detail objective consequences that have or will occur; discuss concrete, logical goals.
- Suggest alternatives.
- Focus on the behavior and not the person. Don’t make it personal.
- Focus on behavior that can be changed and actions that can be taken. It is fine to review past mistakes but without specific solutions, these rehashings will get you nowhere.
- Feedback is most useful when well-timed.
- Attention should be given to the consequences of the feedback. The supervisor or instigator of the conversation needs to become acutely aware of the effects of his feedback. Part of the feedback process involves understanding and predicting how the other person will react. Or in the case of our receiving feedback, we need to understand ways that we respond to feedback, especially threatening feedback.
- If you are the one receiving feedback, try not to overreact. This is easy to do, so ask for clarification. Breathe.
Following the above guidelines to effective feedback can go a long way to limit misunderstandings or inappropriate reactions, but we still need to be always aware of them and be ready to react accordingly.