Communication Skills, Relationship & Collaboration

Giving And Getting Effective Feedback

Blog bites:

  • Be clear about your intention
  • Choose the right vocal role
  • Remember everyone is unique

How do you know if your pitch or presentation really made a mark? The only way to know for sure is to get feedback from the group. But how should you ask for feedback? And if you’re a participant, how should you give feedback that is constructive and helpful?

After all, that’s what giving and getting feedback is all about – knowing what worked and what didn’t so you can tweak your design and delivery, and become a better communicator.

There are three keys to giving and getting feedback:

1. Intention, intention, intention

The best feedback is given from a clean, caring intention. Be clear about your motives when giving feedback. If you’re not 100% certain that you’re doing it exclusively for their benefit, then get your intention and attention in order. Feedback is primarily for the benefit of those receiving it. Coming from this intent means you care – and your recipient will sense this.

Whenever we communicate, we must make it all about our audience. And we need to ask ‘Why?’ That is, why will my feedback benefit you? Why am I sharing my thoughts? This is called the ‘why frame’.

Your comments shouldn’t be about you and how you felt about the pitch or presentation. Instead, your role is to give the receiver value and enhance their experience.

When we do this, we reduce the chance of the person taking our feedback personally. We create an open and honest environment for sharing and supporting each other. And we reduce the risk of harming the working relationship.

So always ask, ‘Why am I giving this feedback? How will this help the other person?’ And be very clear about the intention and outcome before providing feedback.

2. It’s all about tone

When you give feedback, using the right tonality – the right vocal role – will determine how your comments are received. In fact, this is one of the most important voice techniques to master at work.

The best – and most appropriate – voice to use when giving feedback is the ‘colleague’ voice. Why? Because it comes from a friendly, non-threatening place. It’s chatty, informal, relaxed. The person receiving the feedback is more likely to take your comments on board when they feel you are supporting, rather than criticising, their work.

Many make the mistake of opting for an ‘educator’ voice, which unconsciously triggers a sense of hierarchy and is likely to cause reactiveness.

Of course, relationship management is all about knowing how to relate to people. So you may find you need to switch between vocal roles depending on who you are giving feedback to, and the context in which you give it.

3. Remember that everyone is different

We are all unique. We come to the table with different backgrounds, experiences, expectations, trials and tribulations. As a result, we sometimes think ‘I am exceptional and am therefore exempt from this experience’.

So bear in mind that when you give feedback, the other person may be looking for an ‘out’. They may resist your comments and appear frozen or locked down, thinking that your feedback doesn’t apply to them.

How do you overcome this? By mind reading. You simply read their body language and connect with how they are feeling.

For example, you could say, “Do you find that when some people give feedback, it comes across as criticism?” When you do this, you show the other person that you understand how they feel – and that you’re not there to criticise them. They may then open up more and be more responsive to your ideas.

If you’re the one getting the feedback, try not to take it personally. Instead, see it as a chance to learn, grow and become a better communicator.

Do you want to learn more practical feedback and facilitation skills? Then join Colin James and Erica Bagshaw in the Mastering Communication Program.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their leadership skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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