We have all endured bad feedback and had at some point to give it or to receive it.
Non constructive criticism and gossip is all about judging people and putting them below us. If you want your spouse to leave you or your colleagues to hate you, this is exactly what you should do.
I am not going to talk about unsolicited advice which is just a narcissistic way to speak about others when you in fact just want to talk about yourself. Also, it’s very rude. So don’t do it.
How to receive feedback ?
First, with humility. Especially when it’s praise.
I remember someone giving the best answer you could give to a compliment: "Thanks”.
I haven’t found better yet.
What about negative feedback ? If the feedback is uncomfortable, use the baseball technique (thanks Neil Strauss for the insight) : you first catch the feedback in your hand like a ball. Then you look at it and you decide wether it’s relevant or not. Then you choose to discard it or to keep it for later reviewing.
What’s interesting about this, is that it takes the emotional baggage away and lets you decide how you want to deal with it.
Just remember that when one person says that you are an asshole, you don’t care. But if fifty persons tell you you are an asshole, you probably want to look into it…
Why Feedback ?
Now if we talk about constructive criticism, we need to talk about the why ? Why do we give feedback ? And why do we want it ?
Constructive (and we could say proper) feedback is about raising people and making them better.
There are two criteria which I think are necessary for a good feedback.
If we think about how we can make people want our feedback or if we just ask ourselves the question first: “do they want my feedback ?”. You have already solved most issues with criticism and unwanted advice.
Make sure people want your feedback before you actually give it to them. Even when giving advice or feedback is your actual job and you are being paid for it, you want to make sure people are receptive to what you are saying. So you want to create the conditions for being heard. One way to do it is to focus on the positive and to build trust at first. Once you have a positive relationship with someone, they are much more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Once you have created a relationship and that your communication is well received, don’t screw everything. Being constructive means you want to build something. If your feedback is in fact only criticism, what exactly are you building ? Being helpful does not mean that there are no flaws or that everything is perfect. It just implies that you are always aiming at creating value for them with your feedback, that you want them to get something from you. If you think about it, feedback is not about making you feel better, or making them feel worse, or not even about pointing out what’s not working. Feedback is about improving. We want our feedback to help others and we want the feedback we receive to improve ourselves.
What and How ?
During a recent workshop I learned one method of giving feedback. Something you could call the Wow technique.
The Wow method consists in dealing with the WHAT and with the HOW. (hence the catchy phonetic mnemonic W-How, I am just adding the panda for extra impact)
The method goes like this:
This is pretty simple and also very efficient.
Why does it work ?
When you focus on what you liked, you have to find positive things. And the beauty of it, is that there is always something you can enjoy in someone else’s work or performance. It could be their efforts, their attitude, their courage, their persistence, their technique...
Just to be clear, this is not about sugar-coating it. This is about finding what you actually enjoyed about their piece. And when you find something you genuinely like and you tell them. They will feel it and they will thank you for it. If you do this consistently, they will always want your feedback because they will know how much you appreciate and value their efforts.
With the next step, you focus on what can be improved. Notice that there is nothing in your feedback which could be seen as negative or criticising. This is designed so that the feedback is really constructive and can be heard and understood. This is not about you, this is about them and what they could do better.
Please, please, please before going out and using this method, remember to give feedback only to people who actually ask for it or want it!
The goal is not to get you to talk to your brother in law and tell him what you like about his style and how he could improve it…
In a nutshell:
Let me know if you find it useful !
Performance coach, world traveler, tribe builder, NLP enthusiast and mnemonist. I am passionate about self-development and life changing coaching tools.
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