Let’s say it out loud: we should! What’s more, I encourage you, dear reader, to talk. Even if you don’t feel comfortable receiving or giving feedback, that’s perfectly fine.

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It will be crucial to consider multiple perspectives when discussing feedback and its impact. Let’s look at the viewpoints on feedback handling and what they mean. In any evaluation process, it is important to remember that different people have different communication styles and preferences. Some people may feel comfortable giving and receiving direct and constructive feedback, while others may prefer a more indirect or benign approach. Understanding these differences in communication styles can help you create a more open feedback culture and an atmosphere of mutual trust. 

Trust and honesty – foundation of effective everyday communication

We need to remember that trust is fragile and can be easily broken. Once it is lost, it is difficult to get it back. When providing feedback, consider its emotional impact on the recipient. While feedback should be honest and helpful, it’s equally important to give it with empathy and sensitivity. But what does “honest” and “helpful” mean in this context? Being too blunt or critical can trigger a defensive reaction, making it harder for the person to absorb the feedback and work constructively on their progress. The key is to be genuine but in a way that considers other people’s feelings.

Trust and honesty are the foundation of effective everyday communication. When people perceive you as an honest and reliable person, it’s much easier to establish meaningful connections and relationships with others. Trust is built over time through consistent actions, behavior, and decisions that align with the followers’ interests. Managers who are trusted by their teammates are seen as credible, dependable, and capable of leading their team to success.

Moreover, feedback should not be limited to problem solving or suggesting areas for improvement (let’s accept the fact that we all make mistakes). Recognizing and acknowledging strengths and achievements is important, but it is even more valuable when we support our teammates and help them overcome their weaknesses. Positive feedback can help boost self-confidence, thus encouraging individuals to continue their good work if they fail to perform well. Insightful assessment may help them to get back on track, motivate them to overcome obstacles, and ultimately achieve success.

The world is changing – accept incomplete information

In my opinion, feedback structure may include regular and open dialogue between team members, co-workers, or colleagues. It’s about creating a safe and supportive environment where people are free to share their thoughts, ideas, and incomplete information, are not afraid to speak, learn from mistakes, where all their differences will be considered. This can lead to continuous improvement, and this is what we are looking for, isn’t it? 

You’re probably wondering now why I have mentioned incomplete information? I’ll refer to a situation I have faced. There was a person in the team, let’s call him John Doe. John didn’t want to talk to me, he avoided any verbal communication in fact. Whenever I asked how he was, he always answered with emojis – only sad or happy faces. He kept dropping off every meeting after 5 minutes using various excuses: „I have a lot of work, tasks not done, the client will get angry, I didn’t even have coffee today”. 

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I understood that he did not feel comfortable during the conversation. Yes, he was able to describe what he had done, what he planned to do, but that was it. So, I decided to go along with his communication style. At first, I did the talking, he only responded with emojis. And that was progress. Finally, I got an interaction; it was the beginning of conversation with John.

John did not talk about his feelings. He did not have such a need. He expressed emotions with images. Have you noticed that we respond with GIFs more and more? So, each of us has something of John. The question is whether you are ready to adjust yourself to other people or whether you’d rather stay oblivious to the differences of others.

Feedback should be seen as a tool for growth and development

When dealing with feedback in the modern world, be aware of the possibility of misinterpretation due to the lack of non-verbal cues. The tone and context can easily be misinterpreted, leading to unintended negative consequences. Encouraging face-to-face or video calls can help you maintain a more personal and human connection, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.

In conclusion, feedback should be seen as a tool for growth and development, not a one-time event. Emphasizing on-going feedback loops, regular checks and follow-ups can ensure that progress is monitored, skills are improved and any challenge that may arise can be dealt with.

Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake!

Giving feedback requires tact and skill. The more you practice, the better you become at providing it in a helpful and not reproachful way. It is a delicate art because not everyone is open to transparent communication. Providing and accepting feedback can be challenging for various reasons, and it’s essential to approach these situations with sensitivity. Instead of surprising people with feedback, it is better to offer it in a structured and contextual way, respecting their willingness to receive it. It’s important to treat it as an opportunity, not a personal attack. Being open to feedback can help create a culture where others feel comfortable sharing their insights.

Some methods of developing a feedback mindset include creating formal structures, which is why we are so eager to engage in surveys, reviews or focus groups, and actively seek feedback from peers, friends, partners, and colleagues. Moreover, showing gratitude to those who give you constructive evaluation encourages more valuable insights. But it’s not enough to just send a survey and read the comments. You should not be afraid to respond to these comments, even if they are not favorable – you have just received a hint on how to start the dialog. Get used to the fact that opinions will be different. You don’t know the motivation behind the negative comment, but it’s always worth asking. Sometimes it’s the organization’s fault. Sometimes someone will point out that they didn’t get your attention when they asked for it verbally or non-verbally. 

Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake. Do not answer to comments with your thumb up or down. Refer to a specific situation. Remember, admitting to feedback mistakes doesn’t diminish your credibility. Instead, it shows your commitment to open communication and continuous improvement. Embrace feedback as learning experience and be receptive to it yourself, as it allows for growth and fosters a culture of openness and trust in communication.

Find your own way of dealing with feedback

Let’s get back to my example and this time ask ourselves: do you feel comfortable with a direct conversation and if not – why? I’ve noticed people don’t have a problem talking about their tasks. They can say they are doing well, explain their ideas when it comes to backlog. But the team communicates with each other not only about work. We are sharing how we feel, what challenges we have faced. And I’d love to hear how it is in your case. Think about a time when someone gave you a piece of criticism, but you were grateful for it. How did it make you feel? What did this person do to make the experience successful?

Communication is and will be a challenge. We change, situations change, so feedback will change too. In feedback sessions, avoid relying on templates, instead, approach each interaction with openness, perceptiveness, and attentiveness to others’ needs. Stay true to yourself, as authenticity allows for honesty with others. Remember, giving and receiving feedback is an art and a lifelong process. How you utilize feedback is entirely up to you, shaping your growth and development. In feedback sessions, refrain from following rigid templates. Instead, embrace a personalized approach that considers everyone’s unique circumstances. Be open to understanding their perspectives, perceptive to their emotions, and attentive to their needs. By doing so, you create a supportive and empathetic environment for effective feedback exchange. Authenticity is key in feedback sessions. Be genuine and true to yourself, as it lays the foundation for honest and constructive communication.

In conclusion, imagine what would have happened had you not received any feedback?