10 tips for giving constructive feedback

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“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”– Frank A. Clark

When a task is performed by us, things might go wrong, and there could be a great scope for improvement. Feedback by others plays an essential role in helping us identify the areas of improvement. Feedback helps us make corrections and not repeat the same mistake next time. Giving and receiving feedback is part of life, and feedback helps us grow. Feedback provides us with an opportunity to correct ourselves. 

Being a boss or an employer, it could be part of your job to give regular feedback to your employees. Regular feedback, when offered constructively, helps the employees improve their job performance and become more productive. Not only at the workplace, but there could be situations at home as well where feedback needs to be given. Feedback is very much required if our goal is constant improvement. 

However, giving feedback becomes a bit tricky because only a few people are open to it and can take the feedback positively. Most of the people take it negatively and get hurt. When feedback is not constructive, it can demotivate the other person and impact self-esteem badly. The objective of giving feedback is not to hurt anyone but to help the other person make corrections in his or her approach.

So, how to give feedback that is constructive and positive? Here are ten pointers.

10 tips for giving constructive feedback:

1. Mention the positives first: Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Gita said no person is completely good or completely bad. So, there are high chances that there will be some amount of good in the opposite person. Before giving feedback, talk about these positives in the person– like the excellent job they have recently done or their good qualities. Appreciate their work whole-heartedly and acknowledge their contribution. Make it a point to mention at least three positives in the other person. When positives are pointed out before negatives, it opens up the other person and helps in building trust. It makes it easier for the other person to accept feedback.

2. Be specific: When giving feedback, choose a particular job or action and talk only about it. Don’t become generic and vague. Don’t dig past issues. Don’t focus on multiple things as such kinds of conversations can lead to arguments and personal attacks, and they consume a lot of time with no productive output. Just focus only on one action and talk about it. Being specific makes the discussion fruitful.

3. Have a one-on-one: Never give feedback to a person in public or in front of a group of people. When feedback is provided in meetings or in front of others, it is equal to disrespecting the other person, and it causes embarrassment and humiliation. So, avoid giving feedback publicly. Have a one-on-one conversation where just you and the other person are present.

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4. Give examples: Examples are particularly important while giving feedback. This makes your feedback authentic and helps the other person understand your viewpoint. So, give specific instances and examples as to why you think the other person should improve. Instead of just telling ‘your presentation is bad and needs to be improved,’ tell why the presentation is bad. Quote specific places where the presentation can be improved. 

5. Be respectful: Make sure that your body language, tone, and choice of words are respectful towards the other person. Don’t raise your voice or use any kind of abusive or derogatory words. Don’t use words like – always, never, all the time, etc. These words magnify the impact and cause unnecessary hurt. When you tell someone – you are always bad at presentations, it is unprofessional and not a constructive way of giving feedback. A better way to tell it is – your presentation skills can be improved.

6. Be sincere: Don’t carry any malicious or negative intentions while giving feedback. Be sincere in your intention. Your intention should be only to help the other person improve and not to point out the flaws. So, be sincere while giving the feedback.

7. Be objective: Focus on the action and not on the person while giving the feedback. Action and the person are different. A person is much more than the action performed. Don’t engage in any kind of personal attack. Don’t use sentences like – you have bad communication skills, or you are always late to office. Instead, you can say – your communication skills can be improved.

8. Be kind: Understand that it is part of the process to make mistakes. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their viewpoint. Think about how you like to be given feedback when you make a mistake. Give the same kind of feedback to the other person.

9. Listen patiently: After you have given the feedback, provide the other person a chance to speak out and express. Listen patiently and understand their viewpoint. Don’t cut through or interrupt. Don’t assume. Give all the attention and listen patiently. This helps you understand better the circumstances of the other person.

10. Give suggestions: Tell the other person how they can implement the feedback. Give your suggestions and pointers. Give at least one action item. If possible, share your own story or story of someone whom you know about how they improved this area. Adding a personal story makes the feedback more trustworthy and inspiring. For example, if the feedback is about the other person’s communication skills, share the resources that helped you improve your own communication skills. Share your perspective about the topic and show the way towards the right resources. Be like a mentor than a judge.

These are the pointers that help in giving constructive feedback. 

A feedback that is constructive can make a significant difference to the recipient and help him or her genuinely. When the feedback is not constructive, it can impact the other person negatively. So, be mindful while giving feedback and make sure you give only constructive feedback. Constructive feedback can do wonders for the productivity and engagement levels of employees.

It is not only about giving constructive feedback but also try asking for constructive feedback from others about your work. You will be surprised to know new things about yourself and your areas of improvement. Asking for feedback helps you to make improvements and grow wonderfully. It is a great trait to ask for feedback because only a person who has good self-esteem can ask for it.

Give and ask constructive feedback! Wish you prosperity and peace!

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