7 Steps to Better Feedback
Giving good feedback is as important. Whether up, down, or laterally, saying what you need to say builds bridges or destroys them. The goal is to say what is needed in a way that strengthens the relationship and builds greater collaboration. It’s not easy, but it’s easy to learn this skill. Here are 7 steps that will help. A difficult conversation can be honest and timely, helping people understand each other and what is needed. It points to ways to change how we work together for the better.
1. Take a deep breath, get centered, and bring your awareness into your body. Spend some time alone to think through what happened, what you need and want to say, and why it’s important. Write down the most essential things you have to say:
- - the precise details of what happened
- - how are you feeling
- - what you want your relationship with this person to be, e.g. “I want a friendly relationship, a collaborative relationship, or a respectful working relationship with Joe (or Mary or whomever).”
- - why it is important for you to have this conversation
- - what are the consequences or not giving feedback
Note: If you feel, “I’ve had it with Joe. Let me just tell him what I think. I don’t ever want to work with him again.” If this is where you’re at, you have a choice to make. Do you plow into Joe or try to save the relationship. If you don’t want to keep the relationship good, ignore all the advice I have for you here. If it is an important relationship, spend more time with this first step. Wait until you are not pissed off to talk.
2. Schedule time to have a conversation with the person. If possible, make it uncluttered time, at a time you will be feeling your best.
3. Get centered and remember the kind of relationship you want. Start the conversation by giving the context of your feedback. Say what happened with precise details that explain the situation and why it upset you.“This is what happened; I felt this; these are the implications or consequences of what happened.”
4. Ask the person how they respond to what you said. Listen.
5. Ask the person his or her perspective about what happened.
6. Think together about how to follow up, and create agreements about what you will do. If it’s a subordinate, ask them to email you with what you both have agreed to do. If it’s your boss, you can write an email outlining your agreements. If it’s a colleague, set a time to follow up and see how things are going.
7. Make time to meet again. Social time may be the best way to work through an issue with your boss or someone who works for you. Just do what you need to do to make the relationship good and that whatever issue you had is resolved.