To grow as human beings, we need feedback. Feedback gives us information on areas we can work on improving that we might not have seen for ourselves. Entrepreneurs are ambitious people. We want to grow. And if we’re going to grow in our professions, we need valuable feedback to propel our progress.
The flip side to this is that we often dread offering feedback. If the input falls on defensive ears, it will not be effective. It can discourage the person to the point that they become less effective at their job. There is a natural implication when you give someone feedback that you are in some way superior to the person you’re offering feedback.
While a defensive attitude is the recipient’s issue, not yours, there are ways you can handle giving productive feedback that will be more encouraging. You can decrease the odds of bringing out someone’s defensive side, and increase the odds they are receptive to your feedback and act on it, which should be your primary goal.
Tips for Offering Effective Feedback:
Include Positive Feedback
No matter who you are talking to, if you come at the situation from a kind place, you can think of a few positive things to incorporate into your feedback. By telling someone what they are doing well, you’re helping them feel more confident. Letting someone know that they are doing well in some areas can make them more receptive to hearing your thoughts overall.
Use the Sandwich Technique
The sandwich technique involves placing information on an area for improvement between two statements on things they do well. Mention that you appreciate how well they’ve communicated with you about your website design. Then tell them that next time, you would appreciate them letting you know before sending the design out to the rest of the team. Afterward, mention that you think they did a great job on the color scheme.
They’ve now heard areas they’re doing well. Praise isn’t just valuable because it helps their ego; it also encourages them to continue succeeding in those areas. Later, when they remember feeling good about how their communication skills have been appreciated, they will also remember to email you first next time.
If you are vague, the recipient of your feedback may not understand you. Then you’ll need to speak with the person again about the same issue. The second time around it will feel like a scolding even though they genuinely didn’t understand your meaning the first time. Effective feedback is specific, to the point, and gives the recipient actionable advice for the future.
Say enough to make sure you are clear but don’t talk for too long. Some people tend to feel uncomfortable when giving feedback, so they overshare examples and try to end by telling a joke to lessen the potential sting of the feedback. Over explaining may make you feel more comfortable, but the person listening to you needs time alone to digest what they’ve just learned.