You may have witnessed this before. Maybe you were personally on one side or the other. Giving and getting feedback isn’t always easy. Or maybe it can be…
Everybody Has One
An opinion, that is. Perhaps you were the recipient of receiving feedback on an idea or project you were working on. Whether is was solicited or not, you may have been a bit put off or even a bit discouraged after receiving harsh words. Do you then think that it is possible that maybe at one point or another you may have done the same? In this digital age of social media and endless methods of communication, now more than ever it is essential to learn how to provide more effective feedback to influence the outcome.
Assume Positive Intent
Whether you are providing or receiving feedback, we cannot emphasize this critical point enough: always, ALWAYS assume positive intent. Choose to take the perspective that the person that might otherwise be chewing you out has the best intent in mind and truly wants the best possible outcome. Similarly, when it is your turn to provide feedback, assume that the person you are about to address has the best intent in mind and truly wants the best possible outcome. This always ensures that you will be in the best mindset for giving or receiving more effective constructive feedback.
The Magic Words
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just wave a wand and chant some magic words to influence a change in behavior or a particular outcome? While we have not yet come across such enchantment, we have come across three words that have demonstrated to be most effective in not only delivering the feedback, but opening up the door for more productive conversations and hence more effective results.
Consider… So that…
Three simple words in concept, but very often takes a bit of intent and practice to use regularly. These words carry certain connotations in this context and prepares both participants to engage in a constructive discussion. They make the provider of the feedback really think about what they are about to say and more importantly WHY. There is also the underlying implication that not all feedback will be implemented.
This very important principle come in the very first word “Consider”. Afterall, your feedback is one option of many to consider. By opening with consider, you are preparing both yourself and the receiver that what is about to come next should be considered as another option. The recipient may not have even considered your perspective at first and may be very appreciative of this suggestion. Or maybe they might not agree or understand the reasoning behind your proposal.
This is where the next two words come into play. “So that” provides the WHY this alternative should be considered in the first place. It substantiates the recommendation and serves to demonstrate that this will help ensure the best possible outcome. However, you will find that this isn’t always easy to articulate. You may also become quickly humbled yourself as you find that some of the feedback you are looking to provide are more about your own personal opinions and preferences rather than focusing on what is truly best.
Keep it Positive
There is nothing magic in these words alone. As the old adage goes, it’s not what you say but how you say it. In line with assuming positive intent, please ensure that your feedback is solution seeking and stated in the positive and not used (or abused) to systematically cut someone down. To serve as an example, consider the following scenario:
Your coworker is creating a presentation to pitch a new project and you feel that it is a bit wordy and doesn’t necessarily get to the point.
Do NOT take this as an opportunity for shaming as in, “Consider letting me write it for you so that you don’t embarrass yourself.”
Instead, try something along the lines of, “Consider presenting a more concise summary with a specific call to action so that you can help facilitate the decision-making process”. You may also use this as an opportunity to suggest including elements of the RAPID decision-making process we introduced last month!
Influence, NOT Control
Finally, recognize that providing effective feedback is intended to influence and not control. Your ability to influence is directly correlated to how well you are able to convey your thoughts and ideas in a way that people will listen and not only listen to your advice, but will also seek you out as a trusted advisor. So with that said, consider using this method the next time you are providing feedback so that you can increase your influence and help lead the way to the best possible result!