“There is more useful data in a negative feedback as there is in positive feedback.” – Jack Canfield
In order to biologically survive, we need to breathe; in order to survive among each other, we need to communicate. Feedback is very important for all of us as an essential part of effective learning. It helps us realize our mistakes and improve ourselves, as well as motivate us to give our best, perform better and strive to do much more. Without feedback we would subjectively make conclusions about our actions and thus get a distorted image of ourselves.
Most disagreements in private and business life are due to lack of open communication, in terms of giving and receiving feedback. It isn’t always easy to give feedback in a correct way. What’s really important is to learn how to accept it and positively respond to it. Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of saying it in order to avoid confrontation. The good side is there are nice ways to do so.
One of the main rules when it comes to giving feedback is to praise in public – correct in private. If you need to point out what needs to be fixed, it should be done at the right time and in an appropriate manner. We don’t want to disrupt the relationship with that person. We want to improve it. That’s why it’s relevant that the feedback is specific, not general and should point out the pros and cons of a person’s behavior, not their personality (if someone has acted badly, that doesn’t automatically make them a bad person). If the criticism is directed at the person, the harder it’ll be accepted, while the behavior is something which can easily be changed. The right feedback should respect a person, as well as point out the specific behavior which is a source of dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, when we want to give feedback, we should start from the positive one to show a person that we’re aware of their qualities. After this, they’ll be much more ready to accept the criticism which should be focused on behavior. Then we should give a positive conclusion to motivate them to accept our suggestions, instead of quitting, getting mad or ignoring it (one tip: never do that). This is also known as a “sandwich technique” = positive feedback (compliment) + negative (correct) + positive (motivate).
Positive feedback suffers from one very important issue – it lacks in communication. We should never forget it, because it doesn’t require that much of a time, skill and information and its effect on the recipient is positive and very important for future communication.
If we want to successfully communicate, we need to learn to listen actively. As Epictetus once said: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. In communicating with other people, no matter if they are our colleagues, friends or superiors, it’s really important to pay attention to what they say. Not only to what they speak, but also the non-verbal expression which carries an information as well. Unfortunately, nowadays, people have lost patience for it. It’s much easier to talk than listen.
Giving feedback should be a two-way communication, not one-way. Give a person time to think about it and choose the way they want to react. And remember: feedback is an information, not an order.