The when and where of Feedback

Can you guess the shortest word in English which uses abcdef?

It is “Feedback”, the abcdef of communications. The most elementary and essential tool to improve yourself; communicate that improvement and trigger a similar set of improvements in others.

Once the importance of feedback is understood, we need to understand the most important aspect and that is when and where should feedback be given or taken

  1. Timing: Find a time when they are ready to hear. Let us take an example. Alex is just out of the boardroom after giving his presentation, his boss in the middle of all the queries starts giving his feedback on how to improve and where he went wrong. Is this the correct place or time to give this feedback? What if this same feedback was given the next day?

Timing is paramount, the receiver and the giver of the feedback should be ready to concentrate and weigh upon what is being provided.

2. Are you ready? Everything needs preparation. The choice of words is highly significant as that addresses the intent behind the feedback. Prepare your feedback, review the words, think is there a better way to put your thoughts. After all you are going to give suggestions for improvement to the other person. Continuing with our previous example, if the boss was to give his feedback, immediately he might not get enough time to thoughtfully phrase it. Get ready to give feedback.

3. In Person: If possible, feedback should always be given in person. Let us continue with our Alex and his boss. What if the boss would have told his feedback to another team member and told him to convey the same to Alex. In this scenario there are two points. One, it can become a case of Chinese whisper where a change of words is inevitable, the second is no one can convey your intent, not even an email. Preferably give your feedback in person.

4. Location: We have already questioned should the feedback be given just after the board meeting, outside the board room. We have explored why the timing and phrasing may not be perfect in that scenario. Now, we come to the location. Why not outside or inside the board room. A generic positive feedback might be given but not a specific and crucial one. The boss should give this feedback in person, alone in a place where both the entities involved should be in a capacity to give their 100%. The feedback provider should be able to concentrate on his intent and phrasing and the feedback taker should be in a position to absorb and grasp the feedback provided.

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Next time you think of giving or taking feedback, think of the time, preparedness, presence, and location before going ahead and see the difference!

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