Feedback is something that we might have all received at some point in our lives and as hard as constructive or negative feedback can be to take, it is crucial that we consider it and improve. Giving feedback is something you might think you've never done before; it is likely that you have in some form previously.
This blog will help you to give and receive feedback effectively, so that you can apply it to whatever you are doing.
What is feedback?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Feedback is:
information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.
You can give feedback in many forms, both face-to-face, electronically or through telecommunications. There are also a lot of methods such as feedback forms, reviews and rating scales.
When might you need to give or receive feedback?
During your A-Levels and higher education experience, there are a lot of occasions when you might need to give or receive feedback:
- Grades for exams, presentations or assignments.
- Advice about how to increase your productivity in class.
- Reviews at an internship or work placement.
- Objective tracking at an internship or work placement.
- Completing feedback forms about a module or course to the module leader.
- Giving feedback to a manager about their style of working.
- Reporting back about a particular area or work and making suggestions for improvements.
- Giving feedback to a tutor or teacher about their classes and how they could improve them.
Photo by Headway / Unsplash
When receiving feedback, particularly negative or constructive feedback, it can be very easy to not listen, switch off and be stubborn about the situation. That is why there are a few things to consider when receiving feedback.
Listen, and listen actively. When receiving feedback you need to show that you are engaged and taking on board what they are saying. Make notes if you have to and have an open body language so that the person giving you the feedback feels that they can be as honest as possible. Try not to cross your arms and legs as this is closed body language and shows a disinterest. Maintain good eye contact throughout the interaction too. Finally, you should summarise what you heard by asking questions and mentioning action points that you will aim to work on.
2. Show respect
By actively listening and maintaining eye contact and open body language, you will be showing respect to the person giving the feedback. A natural tendency would be to turn your clarifying questions into a defensive strategy to make counterpoints for each constructive criticism you have been presented with. However, defending yourself sends the signal to the giver that you are unreceptive, which could cause further issues later on. So be respectful.
3. Ask questions
This is part of active listening, but there are a few types of questions that you should consider asking as a part of the feedback process:
1. Clarifying questions - you can ask these at the end, to prove that you were listening and ensure that you have picked up all of the areas discussed as part of the feedback.
2. Expansion Questions - you can ask these to get more information out of the person giving you feedback. If you do not understand what they mean or would like more examples or detail to the issue that they are expressing, an expansion question would be a good idea.
3. Try not to probe - often, giving constructive feedback can be just as difficult as receiving it. You should try not to probe and dwell on certain things the individual has said - take notes and clarify at the end. Questions such as "What do you mean?" and "When did I do that?" can come across as defensive if said in a certain tone.
Do ask questions, but be careful about the manner in which you ask them.
4. Be grateful
Be appreciative that the person has taken the time to give you feedback and make sure to thank them. Ultimately, they are trying to help you develop and improve in areas of your role, studies, or whatever is being critiqued. So, try not to judge and make sure to show appreciation.
5. Do something
Make sure that you develop a subconscious awareness around the areas that you received feedback on and look for opportunities to stop or start behaving in the way you have been advised. If you feel that you are improving and developing as a result of the feedback and you are better off now, don’t forget to share your progress with the feedback giver. It's also great to actively seek feedback to map your progression.
For example, if you were told that your presentation skills required improvement and you feel you have worked on it, next time you deliver a presentation, ask the feedback giver how it went and how you can improve further.
Giving feedback is not something we tend to do unless we are asked to do it. And, even then, a lot of us feel reluctant to do so. That's why there are some techniques to follow so that you can ensure that the feedback you are giving doesn't come across in a really negative way to the receiver.
Before you start, remind yourself of the purpose of this feedback session and why you are going to give the feedback. If you cannot justify why you are giving the feedback that you are, you could just be criticising someone unnecessarily. So, just make sure you remember why.
Prepare your comments and don't make it up as you go along. You could end up going off on a tangent and not getting to the root cause of why you have decided to give this feedback in the first place. So, have a focus and make sure that you prepare phrases and comments that you are going to make that are relevant to that focus.
Keep the feedback relevant, especially if you are feeding back on one specific thing. In this case, the key to relevance is being timely. Make sure that the feedback that you are delivering is in a timely manner and is fresh in both your mind and the feedback receiver's mind. Otherwise, each person's input could become distorted.
Feedback is a process that requires consistency and constant attention. Make sure that you regularly check in on how someone is doing that you have given feedback to and if they give you more opportunities to give feedback, make sure that you take these opportunities.
5. Be honest...
When giving feedback, you need to be honest and to the point about what you are trying to get the receiver to improve upon. Try not to be too descriptive or avoid the point you are trying to make.
6. But not too honest
However, put yourself in the receiver's shoes when it comes to delivery. Yes, being honest is a good thing, but if you're too brutally honest, you could cause someone to feel uncomfortable. This is where you need to be respectful with your delivery and the choice of words that you use.
7. Criticise Privately
While public recognition is appreciated, public scrutiny is not. Establish a safe place to talk where you won't be interrupted or overheard before negatively critiquing someone. You will feel better about the situation and they certainly will too.
Hopefully, giving and receiving feedback shouldn't prove to be too difficult now. If you're interested in a degree in Business Management, Marketing, Accounting or Law, check out Pearson Business School. If you're looking for degree apprenticeships, sign up to our vacancy alerts. If you're looking for a creative career, take a look at our VFX, Games and Animation courses at Escape Studios.