It’s always easy to misinterpret another’s words or deeds. One will never know the true intentions or collection of emotions behind another’s expression. All we will ever know is the translation done by our own experiences and beliefs.
I am definitely no expert at giving feedback, and have definitely got myself in situations where I have said to myself;
Oh dear! How do I backtrack?
But a simple structure I like to follow is by asking myself some questions. Sometimes, depending on my own emotional state, I may not necessarily follow this, but I would at least like to practice this approach as often as I possibly can.
1. What is my intention?
Depending on the situation, our inner emotional state often drives our intention. I would like to advise not to get into a feedback session, when you are already challenged by your inner emotions. But the reality is, sometimes we find ourselves in the centre of it, not knowing how to back track.
I would suggest that the minute you realise this, to try to centre yourself, and align the intention by choosing to serve the highest:
I choose to serve the highest good for myself
I choose to serve the highest good for the other
I choose to serve the highest good for all that is impacted
Yep. This is easier said than done. But aren’t most things that? So if you have already gone past it, maybe sing a little prayer retrospectively. It is advisable to get to this intention even late, than never.
Our Intention ideally should never be about:
- Displaying one’s self as better than the other.
- Proving the other wrong
- Displaying one’s power that may or may not come with position or knowledge
- Hurting another
- Making one’s own self look good in the face of superiors (Managers, etc)
- Manipulation for personal gain
2. What is the emotional state of the other?
If someone is already showing strong emotions, it probably isn’t the best time to give any feedback about Improvements. Maybe you can choose to use this situation to provide genuine positive feedback. Reminding the person of all the “good things” or “positive contributions”.
If you need to provide feedback about aspects they can improve, it is advisable to wait until they are having a good day.
3. Have I asked to give feedback?
In the online world, this is rather a challenge. It is much easier to write something as a comment. But, I believe, in the online world, people are also used to getting various different comments.
For one-on-one situations, it’s best we seek permission.
4. Have I experienced a similar situation before?
Often in life, we stumble upon similar situations. It always benefits us if we revisit these experiences and seek guidance within ourselves for areas of improvement. If you have noticed that the tone you used, or the words you used, got in the way of delivering the message, it is advisable to change them.
5. What words should I use?
Using words to “give definitive solutions” rather than “recommending options” often will hinder your message delivery. I don’t believe any one of us are experts in another’s life or another’s situation. Even when we have the best intentions, and already aware that we know nothing about their life, our words may indicate otherwise to the other.
It is always best to acknowledge the current reality about the accuracy of your perception out loud, at the beginning of the conversation. This would probably assist all parties to get grounded.
6. Am I genuine in the choice of my words?
It’s not difficult to find “experts” on any given topic these days. These experts may be genuine or not so genuine, and it would be an absolute challenge to know! If there is something to learn, we can safely put aside their genuineness and just learn.
But if we just learn the words, but not the entire lesson behind it, the depth behind words, structures, or frameworks, the emptiness of your words may become quite obvious!
What ever the words we use, they need to be backed by our genuine thoughts an emotions. Using words taught within a framework, even when your internals are screaming the opposite, will only go a limited distance. And if you are aware of this, you are probably not in the best situation to give feedback. Maybe you are ready for a discussion instead.
7. Am I going around in circles?
If you feel at any given point in time that the message isn’t being heard, it is a good indicator to use “silence”. As much as I hate this, especially to be the recipient, it probably is the only remaining option.
Allowing another to speak their heart out, by holding a space, and not saying a word, even when you disagree with what they say, requires a lot of training. At least this is my personal experience. It is less about giving up, but more about giving in, and giving time. Of course, this experience would drain your energy levels, but if your intention is to serve, silently listening is also serving.
8. Do I have a balanced view of both positives and Improvement areas?
It is advisable not to only focus on growth areas. Who doesn’t like to be admired or celebrated. Any feedback session I believe should start with genuine celebration. Should show genuine empathy and care.
Once again, let me remind you, I am no expert. The amount of times I’ve f***ed up is a lot more than a few. But each of those times, I’ve tried to learn. And I’m sure I have a lot more to learn.
All we can ever do is to continuously improve ourselves. So let’s excel at that!
– Nim –