Feedback is an effective tool for personal and professional evolution of every person, and an excellent means to develop not only technical, but behavioral skills as well.

What is feedback?

Feedback can be defined as “communication to a person, or group, in the sense of providing you with information about how your performance is affecting other people. Effective feedback helps individual (or group) improve their performance, and thus, achieve their goals” (Fella, 2008, p. 94). Feedback is of broad relevance in human behavior and in interpersonal relations. Since it is a means to assist changes in the behavior of another individual, it plays an important role in the process of developing interpersonal competences.

Why is it so hard sometimes?

In fact, it can be hard to accept and admit our own inefficiencies. When one realizes their behavior is contributing to a problem or there is some behavior that identifies the need to change, one can react defensively: shut down (disconnect from the moment), deny the validity of the feedback and even attack the communicator by pointing out their mistakes as well. This is a natural behavior that needs to be trained – we only grow if we understand our limits and work to do differently.

Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most difficult tasks because, unfortunately, we have the habit of seeing it as a criticism and we don’t like to be criticized. So, the difference is in how we see it. We need to understand that feedback is something constructive, and we do it because we want that person to do well and want to help them. If we are able to change the way we see these things, it will make things much easier! In fact, giving feedback is something we only do when we care about the other person. Otherwise, we leave aside the idea that “it doesn’t help” or “it won’t make any difference”. In the end, feedback plays an important role in the building of solid relationships.

Feedback benefits not only organizations, but it’s something that enhances self-knowledge and contributes to greater personal development. When we have the practice of feedback within organizations, employees feel more motivated, understand their potential, and feel cared for by the company. Moreover, their productivity increases, because they know what they have to keep on doing and what they have to improve. This whole process happens through a human eye and with a focus on development – this means that feedback is not only about organizations, but about individual growth, that impacts the company by consequence.

Feedback benefits not only organizations, but it’s something that enhances self-knowledge and contributes to greater personal development. Photo: Joshua Ness via Unsplash (2019).

Some tips for giving and receiving effective feedback

I often say that feedback should happen instantly, whether positive or negative, because waiting to mention something may not help. Bellow, I have listed some tips that can help you right now at both giving and receiving feedback:

1. Be specific: don’t generalize

Use specific situations to illustrate the feedback you’re giving, and avoid saying “you always do this or that”. Important: use the right timing!

2. Be analytical: use examples of what you mean

Besides using examples to illustrate feedback, you can refer to your impressions and feelings about specific situations.

3. Be fair: state your opinion, not what you’ve heard

Feedback must be thought-out and structured. Think carefully about what and how you will be communicating.

4. Be sincere: express how you’ve felt in specific situations

Be honest with what you’ve thought and felt in specific situations. But keep in mind that honesty also involves how you deliver the information as well.

5. Be persistent: feedback is a construction, it might take more than one conversation

Help the other person to understand what they need to change, and be patient if you don’t see results immediately. Feedback is a process that sometimes can take more time than we would wish.

6. Be open: speak and listen without judging

Be open to what the other person has to say about you, and remember you shouldn’t blame others for the feedback you receive.

7. Be understanding: don’t react

Listen carefully to what other people have to say about you. If it doesn’t make sense immediately, take some time to reflect on it.

References

Fella, M. (2008). Desenvolvimento Interpessoal – treinamento em grupo. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. José Olympio.

About the author

Taís Nunes is a People Partner at Poatek. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and a Postgraduate Degree in Group Dynamics. She started working in the Human Resources area four years ago, supporting projects in all of its subsystems as a generalist. In love with people, her mission is to impact people’s lives in the best possible way.