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The Art Of Effective Feedback

Feedback is essential to career and business progression. Whether seeking it from clients, superiors or peers, we all need healthy and constructive criticism to become better. The key lies in being able to give and receive feedback graciously and effectively.

When Giving

1.) When giving feedback remember to be factual and accurate. Avoid emotional or non-direct statements such as "I feel that you" or "It was annoying when". Instead be totally factual " You didn't respond to emails in a timely manner 1 hour is average for us you took up to 4 hours, this slowed down everyone else's processes".

2.) Provide guidance. Feedback is about facilitating improvement, make this happen by ensuring criticism is accompanied by practical advice to do better. For example "Have you tried setting a reminder to check your emails every 30 minutes while you are away from your desk".

3.) Be compassionate, it is not your job to make anyone feel inadequate or bad about themselves. Whilst the compliment sandwich is a debatable approach as some feel it distracts from the negative too much, it does help to tell people how they've succeeded. By letting someone know the ways in which they are doing well you can help them to spot the positives and work harder to apply that approach or attitude to their weaker areas.

When Receiving

1.) The famous poem 'IF' by Rudyard Kipling states: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same". I believe this approach is a valid one whenever dealing with criticism or praise. Remain gracious in both instances, acknowledge what is being said, do not attempt to defend yourself as this is not an attack situation, instead listen carefully. Even if you don't agree, it always helps to understand how your colleagues view you and this is the perfect time to gain some insight into this. It will be beneficial to adjust your approach when working with specific colleagues if you know how they see things. You will only know this however, if they feel that they can be honest with you.

2.) Take practical steps towards change. Where clear actions for improvement have been outlined for example "Your punctuality could be improved, you tend to get in around 10-15 minutes late everyday and it delays our morning meetings". Make conscious choices to overcome. Be practical in your approach to making a positive change, whether that means waking up earlier, preparing more carefully or just thinking for a few seconds longer before hitting send on that email. Be pro-active, these seemingly small things are the ones that stand in the way of promotions and salary increases.

3.) Remain professional and friendly, this is not a time to react emotionally. Hearing criticisms are hard especially when they may seem unfair or unfounded. It is key however, to take them in your stride and respond with maturity and tact. Nine times out of ten a critique that seems unfair is actually us being blind to some of our shortcomings. It may help to seek a second opinion and it is ok to ask for clarity. Try saying " Thank you for that criticism, I haven't been made aware of this before. So that I am clear, can you provide me with some examples. This way I can do better moving forward, thank you for the observation." By being practical and honest in this way you demonstrate a genuine desire to improve.

If you found this helpful please share with someone who could use the feedback ;)

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