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How to give and receive feedback in 7 simple steps

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Listen to the podcast !

Learning how to give and receive feedback – without causing any tears! – was a game-changer in my working life. 

Throughout my time in business school, and during the early years of my career, no one explained the importance of constructive criticism to me. 

And the results on both my personal and professional life were damaging. 

I wasn’t able to share information in a constructive way. I started to build up resentment towards my colleagues. I was easily discouraged. And I ended up doing almost everything on my own. 

Basically, all the symptoms of a terrible communication setup.

But then, I finally learned how to give feedback, as well as receive it with grace, and it transformed my way of collaborating.

But I wish somebody had taught me earlier – so here are my 7 secrets to giving feedback, to help you avoid making the same mistakes. 

(Rather listen than read? Here’s the podcast episode where I go into all this in more detail.)

How to give feedback

  1. Set your intention

At one point, you may feel the need to share your point of view – and that’s cool. This is the time to set your intention by defining the objective of the conversation you want to have. Action with intention is the very first step for respect, so be mindful of this.

  1. Remember it’s all about facts

You don’t want the other person to take the feedback too personally, so focus on facts. That’s the only way to reach a common ground in your discussions. Be humble and try not to make any assumptions about the other person.

  1. Bring some feelings

If you know me, you know I always advocate for bringing emotions into the discussion. We are human, after all! It’s important to talk only about yourself. Use “I feel…”, “I saw…”. “I understood…”, and never ever ,“You did…”, “You think…” These are the ultimate triggers when giving feedback.  

  1. Explain the consequences

It’s super important to clearly explain the consequences of the person’s actions now and for the future. You’ll definitely widen their point of view by offering new perspectives. But remember: receiving feedback should be an ‘aha’ moment for them rather than feeling like a threat. 

  1. Acknowledge the other person’s thoughts

Make sure you understand everything that’s said by asking questions and listening carefully to the answers. Be curious and I guarantee that you’ll learn something new. Try questions like, “How did you experience that? Did you notice this…?”

  1. Come up with solid solutions 

Finding new ways of moving forwards is one of the superpowers of giving and receiving feedback. So bring a solution! What would you like to see the other person do differently in future?

  1. Create an action plan

A wish without a plan is just a dream… so, to be sure you’re not discussing the exact same thing in a few weeks or months, list an action plan. What are the next steps you can both take?

give feedback

How to receive feedback 

  1. Listen actively

I know it’s hard to quiet your inner voice, especially if you don’t like what you’re hearing. But truly listening to what the other person is saying is your first – and most important – job when receiving feedback.

  1. Ask for examples  

The person giving you feedback is trying to tell you something important. They might be prepared or not, clear or not, so your job is to make sure you work hard to understand what they truly mean.

  1. Show compassion 

Giving feedback isn’t an easy exercise. If you’ve been through the process, you’ll know how hard it can be. It helps to show compassion for the other person’s point of view.

  1. Summarise to make sure you understand

Yes, this stressful situation can make people fuzzy and unclear. And as soon as it’s time to respond, you want to be sure you understand the matter completely. 

  1. Focus on the future

Next, it’s super important to see how you can do things differently. No matter what type of feedback you receive, there’s always room for improvement. Focus on the future!

  1. Appreciate the opportunity to grow

The person giving feedback might have said stuff you don’t agree with – and that’s OK. They don’t possess the ultimate truth. But remember, this is an opportunity to receive knowledge; to gather new info and grow. No matter what happens during a feedback session, you’ll learn something important about human relationships. Just appreciate that.

  1. Respond calmly

Bursting into tears will never help the situation. If you’ve followed all the other steps, you should have a clear idea of what you can learn from the situation, where you can change things, or what you want to focus on. There’s no wrong answer to feedback. Even a simple: “Thank you for taking the time to share that with me, I ‘ll need to think about it. Can we discuss further later?” is a good reply.

Voila: so that’s how I give and receive feedback! 

recieve feedabck

Are these tips helpful? Will you use them? Did I miss anything?? Let me know by reaching out to me on LinkedIn or Instagram. I’d also love you to listen to the podcast I recorded about giving and receiving feedback, which goes into the topic in much more depth. 

Amélie Beerens

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