The Happy Chemist

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I was reading a quote recently about the importance of giving good feedback, and receiving good feedback with grace:

“When his sports coach gave him a tough time, another teacher told him: ‘That's a good thing. When you're screwing up and nobody's saying anything to you any more, that means they gave up on you.’”

Feedback is given by people who care about us. It’s intended to be constructive, and not done just to cause offence.

There are many opportunities in life to provide good feedback that encourages or even changes the way someone we care about is behaving. Like commenting on how a workmate has carried out a task, or discussing our children’s behaviour with them.

New ways of communicating

I reckon there are useful skills involved in giving good feedback:

  • Feedback should always be about someone’s behaviour, NOT their personality.
  • Describe the effect the other person’s behaviour has had on us.
  • Don’t generalise – talk about specific occasions and behaviours, and point to exactly what the person did, and exactly how it made us feel.
  • Timing – if we have feedback to give, think about what we’re going to say, then get on and give it.
  • Picking the right moment – awareness about where the other person is at when giving feedback. If they’re angry, wait until they’ve cooled off.

Being cool about being told

There are also skills involved in receiving feedback. Not everyone is good at giving feedback, so the key thing is to just listen, and then thank the person who’s communicating with us. This shows we have heard, and accepted the feedback. Accepting it just means taking it on board. What we do with the information afterwards is up to us.

But let’s all try and remember that the person giving the feedback, like that sports coach, felt strongly enough to bother mentioning it in the first place.

~ Clive