46What do you Guys think about Feedback? Do you consider it important? How do you feel after receiving some "constructive" feedback as they use to call it?
In the last month or so the Feedback theme has been present in my thoughts quite often due to various events, discussions, amazing transformations and nearly avoided disasters. But let me go back a little bit...
During my first weeks as a Team Lead back in 2004 one of our American supervisors had the task to provide me with a short training on the subject. At that time I was finding out the hard way that this is one of the more stressful parts of my duties and was really looking forward to this training as to learn the secret.
What I received was actually summed up on half a page and was more or less this:
· Focus on the behavior, not on the person and thus avoid making it personal
· Be specific, concrete and do not generalize
· After sharing the constructive part, always finish on a positive note
You can imagine I was a bit disappointed. I didn't know how to effectively give feedback, however I also didn't feel that this little formula held the keys to success. Ten years later I am still not sure that I am wiser on this topic, but I do have some observations that I'd like to share with you.
· Giving constructive feedback sometimes is as uncomfortable as receiving it – many people prefer to say nothing in order to avoid conflict or receive some "feedback" back. This however has a disastrous long term effect of tensions building and exploding in our faces.
· Somehow feedback is always personal – even if we focus on the behavior only. Nobody likes to hear they did something in a sub-optimal way. Moreover it is always very painful for someone to expose a truth that you know, but deny even in front of yourself and let's be frank here – the normal human reaction is to look for and make up excuses as to make a certain fact or deed more comfortable, acceptable and OK.
· Sometimes if the person has had a really negative reaction to a feedback it is best to give them some time. It takes a while to deal with ones self and confess the inconvenient truths.
· It's hard to be specific sometimes, but you must. I would think it would help if you're on the receiving end of a few general statements to ask the question "Would you please think and name the reasons that have made you to arrive to this general conclusion? This is of course if we have had the inner stability, strength and endurance to overcome the first emotional responses within ourselves.
· First gain the trust, then provide the feedback - the whole thing of getting or exchanging feedback becomes significantly easier if both parties realize that this is not an act of violence, war or an attempt to hurt, but rather an extremely healthy and powerful mechanism that provides us with the incredible opportunity to perform a reality check.
· Even if the feedback is perceived as a hostile event or really is one – there is much learning to be gained nevertheless – a good trigger to understand why exactly this is happening and why exactly on a specific topic. If nothing else – we can at least get even better, or learn how to provide better understanding or visibility to what we do.
· The tone – our tone of voice gives out much more information than we think. Are we using the correct tone of voice and have we set the correct tone of conversation for the specific feedback session or situation?
· Providing positive feedback is as important as providing constructive one. Positive feedback is an absolute must once improvement is noticed. It is the fuel of the positive change.
Feedback has the power to change us for the better. It's not the feedback actually – it's the work that we perform within ourselves when we work with it. A process that creates a better version of us at its end.
It can lead to wonders or to disasters. As givers and receivers we decide the outcome by the way we provide, handle, accept, deny and work with it.
I'm really keen on learning what is your opinion? What would you take off or add to the list? What are your success stories, what are the fails? Are you a skeptic?
Please give us your feedback!

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