Giving Feedback - Using Positive Thinking for Positive Feedback
My Feedback Start
Fifteen years ago, I joined a club call Toastmasters in the downtown Pittsburgh, PA area. It was all about giving speeches to a small (sometimes large audience). As a member of a Toastmasters club, you perform various rolls during the meeting; and many times, one of the rolls I filled for the meeting was that of a speech evaluator.
A speech evaluator offers helpful suggestions on how well the speaker performed, the organization of the speech, the delivery, and other factors. One main overall theme that the speech evaluator is trained to do, is to give feedback in a way that would help the speaker during the next speech he/she would give. The feedback had to be positive, because we wanted the speaker to try incorporate the suggestions into their next speech.
Since then, I have learned that giving positive feedback in all aspects of life works well as a helpful tool for both communicating and attaining the goals that I was chasing, and helping other to attain their goals. It's all about thinking positive all the time.
Anyone can easily learn to give (and receive) positive feedback.
First, let's define what feedback is as it relates to people. Feedback is a form of communication where one party offers ways to improve something to another party. Here is a simpler way of thinking of this. Positive Feedback is when you suggest how a person can do something better. Negative Feedback is when you suggest to someone that what they are doing is incorrect.
Many of us have a tendency to use negative feedback. This is because we are not thinking about how we are communicating with someone else. Positive or negative feedback can be used to deliver news, instructions, praise, etc. So, which do you use?
Here is a simple thumb rule you can use to determine the type of feedback you are giving. If you give feedback in such a way that the person receiving the feedback seems upset, annoyed, or displays any other type of negative emotion, then you are probably using negative feedback. On the other hand, if you give feedback in a way that the person response to you in a positive way, then you are using positive feedback. Yes! It's that simple.
You use feedback in your every day life. We all do. We give feedback to our family members, friends, neighbors, our work associates, our romantic interests, even to people we have just met, as a way to accomplish a specific goal. Typically, the goal is to modify some type of behavior. Sometimes, the feedback is given to help someone improve on what they are doing. Other times, we use feedback to help others understand what we want to attain.
Think back for a moment. When was the last time you gave feedback to someone? How did they receive the feedback? Was the feedback acted upon? Did you feel you had to repeat the feedback again? Or, did the feedback you gave, prove to be worthwhile to both of you? Look for ways you can improve your feedback delivery.
Why Not use Negative Feedback or “Burning the Proverbial Bridge!”
The idea of feedback is to encourage someone to improve themselves. This improvement will sometimes hold a benefit for you as well. But if the feedback is delivered in a negative fashion, more than likely, you will not attain the results that you hoped for.
For many of us, there comes a time when we want to rant and rave about what has gotten under our skin. Keep in mind that if you blow-up while giving feedback to someone, you are also creating a condition with that person who will start viewing you in a diminished light. Once you go down this road, it will be difficult to come back.
I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "don't burn the bridge behind you." Well, there is a good reason for this statement. When you come across negatively to people, if the chance ever arises where that person can apply negative feedback to you, they more than likely will.
How to give Positive Feedback
Giving positive feedback is easy. Just remember these simple rules ...
- Relax yourself; be calm. -- People can sense when others around them are uneasy. Calm yourself first. Relax. Giving feedback is just another form of communication. Be nice and considerate.
- Refer to definitive behavior (What does the feedback refers too) -- Be specific here. You want this person to improve on something. What exactly is that something?
- Keep it short (Don't try to deliver a whole list of things at once) -- You may be uncomfortable giving feedback, but how do you think the person receiving the feedback feels. If you need to, break it up into a few short sessions. But do keep it short. You want the person to remember the feedback your are giving.
- Suggest your information (Don't tell your information) -- Create a list of ideas that you can offer as suggestions for ways that the person receiving the feedback can use to improve what they are doing. Not what they are doing incorrectly.
That's the basics for positive feedback. A good way to learn to give positive feedback is to practice it on someone, like your spouse or family member. Someone you trust to give you straight information about how you are doing and how they would react if they were receiving this feedback in real life
Providing feedback to anyone is a way of showing them, you are interested in them enough to help. Using positive feedback sets the tone of your feedback to be well received and very possibly, to be acted upon.