I seem to always laugh out loud…for real…when Jimmy Fallon busts out his Audience Suggestion Box routine. It always begins with this powerful voice saying, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Then it sets up his ‘audience’ suggestions, like Black Simon and Garfunkel, or recreate the cover of Nevermind with a grown man instead of a baby.
It got me thinking though, that feedback really does work to help us grow [whether we are giving or receiving it]. So, here are my thoughts on how feedback works for our good.
1. Practice makes perfect. Maybe not perfect, but better. Feedback can be scary. Remember, that it takes practice…like building a muscle. It may be raw or rough information, but done well, it can show the person you care.
2. Listen and filter. If you are on the receiving end of feedback, lower your defenses. It takes courage for someone to bring a blind spot to your attention. It may not come out well [see above, raw and rough], but this person is caring for and about you…helping your development. Filter what you are hearing, there is most likely some truth in it.
3. Timing is important. My wife knows not to give me information when I’m hungry. I’m a grump otherwise. I’m not listening. Similarly, timing can help or hurt feedback. Don’t let issues build up, have the conversation as soon as you can. If you blow off or minimize what is annoying you, you’re not helping the situation or your relationship.
4. Sarcasm is not the answer. Don’t try to give feedback with humor, sarcasm or passive aggressive language. Be responsible for what you are feeling…own it. Have an adult conversation about it.
5. It’s the behavior, stupid. I’ve often gotten in trouble when what I bring up is personality. We can’t change or even hope their personality will change, but, we can help a person develop skills in business or personal relationships. So, stick with behaviors that are affecting your relationship with the person.
6. I, not you. When it’s time for feedback, relationships are struggling. But, with a good conversation, it’s an opportunity for growth and strengthening. Don’t say things like, “You always ignore me. That’s lame.” Try, “I feel hurt that you don’t include me or my opinions.”
7. Picture this. Give them a picture of what you would like to see happen. “I can see us collaborating and being a great team on the next project. You bring so much to the table. I’m committed to seeing you succeed.” People love to know they are cared for and being invested in. Help them see that feedback is good for them.
Remember, whether you need to have the hard conversation, or listen to feedback from someone else, you will grow from the experience, by showing you value the person.