In my last blog post, I have provided you with a couple of tips through which you can get an honest feedback from your peers without putting them on the spot. In this blog, I will provide you with some more tips on getting effective feedback, but this time I will concentrate on a few subtle methods, so your peers don’t feel uncomfortable while providing their honest feedback to you.
Listen first, talk later: Too many people ask for feedback, wait only 2 or 3 seconds, before they start talking again. It takes more time than that for most people to organize and verbalize their responses. And hence, once you ask for their feedback, you should be silent for more than 10 – 15 seconds, and give them time to think and organize their thoughts. Once they start speaking, don’t disrupt them in between, even if you don’t agree with some of their comments. If you do that, they might lose their train of thoughts, and you will end up diverting the conversation to something else completely. Thus, I would recommend you to use a pen and paper (or any note taking application) during these kind of conversations. In this way, you can present your counter argument later without interrupting your peers while they are providing you with their valuable feedback.
Paraphrase: Even when you feel sure you understand a person’s feedback, it is important to paraphrase. For example, if your boss says, “This rush job has top priority,” you could paraphrase by saying, “You are telling me that this rush job has higher priority than any other job I’m working on now. Is that right?” By paraphrasing, you are not only making sure that you understood him correctly, but you are also asking for his validation on the spot. Do not assume that you understand the meaning of the feedback that you receive from others. If you even have a slightest doubt in understanding their feedback, then don’t be afraid of asking for clarification. Worst come worst, you will get the same feedback again, but you will ensure that you understand their point of view crystal clear.
Be interactive: Don’t let the feedback be one-sided deal. Even though, you don’t want to disrupt in-between, you want to make sure that you use encouraging statements during this process, so that your peers feel comfortable while giving their feedback. People usually adjust their feedback by monitoring the listener’s verbal and nonverbal reactions. And hence, you want to make sure that you are interactive and positive during this process. If you want a person’s honest opinion, you must encourage it by purposely saying such things as “Really?”, “Interesting”, “So, you feel that. . . .”, etc.
Follow-up with a reward: If you are a manager, you can reward feedback by complimenting the person, preferably in front of colleagues. You can also implement a reward system within your team, where “Best Idea of the Month” employee gets a public recognition through name calling or a personalized placard or a company pen with their name engraved on it. If you are an individual contributor (employee), you can sincerely thank people for their comments and perhaps write them a note of thanks. In this way, you will not only encourage them to provide their feedback again, but you will also encourage others to provide their feedback to you after looking at this person’s experience with you.
These are some ideas through which you can make the feedback communication slightly easier for your peers. If you have any other ideas through which we can improve our feedback communication, then please share it through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi