Giving and receiving feedback

Feedback is about achieving results together

Giving and receiving feedback are critical soft skills in achieving results. Dealing effectively with feedback serves what you and the other person require to achieve the goals both of you set out to accomplish. When you deal with feedback in the right manner it is possible to discover shared interests.

In this article we share our take on giving and receiving feedback with the help of soft skills. At the end of the article we listed the benefits of coaching in giving and receiving feedback that helps you to achieve results together with other people.

Our other articles on giving and receiving feedback you can find in the category Giving and receiving feedback.

Feedback should be a conversation with a resolution for the issue at hand, while maintaining or even developing the relation. Focusing on the relationship helps measurably in the realization of the results. Relationships give you the crucial advantage in work and life.

Feedback is essentially about achieving results together. This means that your focus is on what is needed in a particular situation to achieve that result. This concerns your own interests, your values, and what issue has to be resolved. For feedback to be really effective you have to be aware of the interests, values and what has to be resolved for the other person as well.

Where can it go wrong?

This is of course a description of the ideal situation. While giving positive feedback there is usually no problem. It is when feedback has to be negative or critical that difficulties arise. In these cases the feedback process is often marred by comments and assessments with a personal aim. Instead it is much more productive to focus exclusively on the issue. Often this is difficult due to the emotions involved.

In many cases an issue that requires critical feedback is already ‘hot’ for some time. The emotions involved can make it harder to give the necessary feedback in a productive and professional manner. That is why it is critically important never giving feedback while your emotions (or those of the other person) are still running high.

Giving feedback effectively

The key to giving feedback that is effective is to remember two points:

  1. Feedback serves to resolve a particular problem, or to consolidate a particular result.
  2. This means that the feedback has to address the issue, not the person, even when the issue is the personal behavior.

When you give feedback in accordance with these rules you immediately influence the situation in a professional manner. Because you do not react offensively or defensively, your behavior will not inflame emotions. The chance that your point of view will be received increases. Change and taking of responsibility has become possible. Often the relationship will even improve.

If you want to give feedback in this way, it helps to be able to accept that another person is not responsible for the emotions and feelings you experience. The other person is only responsible for the act itself, not for the emotional effect it has on you. You are responsible for how you give feedback on that act. The emotions you feel are never a justification for how you react.

Effective feedback should have the same quality as a normal conversation that addresses an issue. You ask someone to do something, or you ask someone to stop doing something. Nothing more. The same applies whether you are giving feedback to a colleague, your boss, or an employee. In all these situations it is possible to gain the respect of all involved, resolve the situation, and build the relationships that support you and your goals.

Of course this seems easier said than done due to the unusual focus, the emotions, and the possible tension that giving and receiving feedback entail. This is where coaching comes in.

Coaching in giving and receiving feedback

Coaching can help you to discover what is the best way for you to give feedback. It can uncover how and where you might feel emotionally triggered to avoid giving feedback, or at the contrary give feedback offensively. Coaching can also help in learning how to receive feedback in a way that will help you to grow professionally. The result will be that your skill in giving and receiving feedback will increase – and so will your professional influence.

In our experience, coaching in giving and receiving feedback has, among other things, the following results:

  • Capable of establishing trust to motivate change and taking of responsibility.
  • Knowing how to avoid defensiveness or offensiveness, both in yourself and others.
  • Using feedback to develop yourself and others by knowing what needs to be nourished.
  • Dealing effectively with emotions by maintaining inner balance and social empathy.
  • Giving both positive and negative feedback effectively.
  • Finding the right nuance between diplomacy and speaking ‘truth to power’ (e.g. in giving feedback to your boss).