Give and Take Constructive Feedback with Ease

Joyce Weiss

No one likes to hear criticism about themselves. Even when someone says, “Tell me what you honestly think about…” We often hold back, knowing that our honest opinion may cause an uncomfortable silence or even a shouting match. And when someone does get completely honest with the feedback, the listener often shuts down.

The word honest means full disclosure with good intent.  The words good intent are key  to achieve positive results.  Constructive feedback is a positive spin on giving helpful communication with good intent.

When it comes to feedback,  you need to remember some key points to keep the sting from hurting you:

  • All feedback is valid from the critic’s perspective. For example, if someone says that they don’t think you’re working hard enough to deserve your current job, before you blow up, perhaps consider that they don’t know about all the extra hours you put in at night and on the weekends. Before you react, always ask yourself what that person sees (or doesn’t see) from his or her vantage point.
  • Disregard the judgmental aspects of the feedback and address issues that can be beneficial to you. Every feedback has some take-away point you can grasp onto. Put aside any negativity you hear and listen for the root of the feedback.
  • Keep your mind open to all viewpoints. Remember that any form of feedback is an opportunity to learn. If you adopt an attitude that says, “I want to know if I have blind spots that I may not see about myself,” then you will view feedback as a glimpse into yourself.
  • Avoid taking a defensive position when feedback is leveled at you. Don’t say, “How could you say such a thing?” or “I can’t believe you would say that.” These statements will discourage honesty in the future.

Turning the Tables
If you are the critic, you have some rules to follow too. Before you dispense any of your honest opinions, keep the following in mind:

  • Challenges stated in positive terms lead to solutions; Challenges stated in negative terms lead to distress and feelings of helplessness. Therefore, always frame your feedback in positive terms. Example: “I love the presentation you did last week. It would be great to see that side of your personality more often.”
  • Before you use constructive feedback, always ask yourself, “To what extent is this person capable of fulfilling what I want?” A follow up question is, “Is my expectation realistic?” Sometimes the criticism isn’t justified if you’re expectations of others are unrealistic.
  • When you don’t solve challenges, there is no forward movement. Therefore, think about the behavior that does not move you one step closer to what you really want. Is that the behavior your criticism will bring out? If so, how can you reframe your opinion into a more positive statement that moves the other person to the needed behavior?

Granted, constructive feedback or criticism is rarely fun; however, it is necessary in order to grow. So whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, always keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Only then will the criticism be a valuable feedback tool.

Joyce Weiss, author of Full Speed Ahead and Take the Ride of Your Life!

© Joyce Weiss Training & Development LLC


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