Soft Skills: Feedback
About a month ago Portiva started a two year Program called “Portiva Samen Groeien” (Portiva growing together”). Therefore we started a partnership with Pam and Bernard from Carv Company. They are going to teach us Soft Skills related to the topics “Me”, “The Team” and “The Customer”.
It all started with us filling in a personality test of about 150 questions. During a 1-on-1 with Pam, we would talk about our results and think about our personal goals for these two years.
Next to these 1-on1 sessions we also have group sessions. The first group sessions was about the topic “Feedback” and here I would like to post what I learned about “Feedback”.
Let’s start with some definitions.
A compliment is an expression of praise. Just like saying “I like your hair”.
Criticism is the practice of judging something or the behaviour of someone according to standards/criteria. e.g. “The dutch soccer team did not play very well this year during European Championship”
Feedback ‘is a process in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future.’ (Wikipedia). Which means you give feedback about something in order to influence the future. For our context it is important that feedback should always be about behaviour. Feedback can be positive, if you want the same behaviour to happen again; or negative, if you want to change the behaviour.
During the sessions we learned some steps, in order to give feedback in a proper way:
If you follow these steps, you have a good chance of being heard, accepted and achieve your goal:
- Describe the behaviour you have seen in the other person. Describe it from an “I have seen” perspective.
- Ask the other person if she has also noticed this behaviour in herself, if she can recognize herself in your words. In the case that you do not find agreement at this step, then there is no point to continue.
- Describe how this behaviour affects you… which feelings you get from the other persons behaviour.
- Together, try to interpretate the situation and why you got there.
- Together, try to find a solution.
We got the assignment to give and ask for feedback from different people using these guidelines.
During this assignment I actually learned the most, about why the rules are important.
(1) Because you are describing in the “I have seen” perspective, the other person cannot argue with you. You have seen what you have seen.
(2) If you then ask the other person tell you if she recognices this behaviour in herself, this is the point where the other person hardly can say no. Even if she was not aware of this behaviour so far, but she will think about what you have seen, she will likely become aware of her behaviour. (of course with the assumption that the behaviour is really taking place)
(3) If you the explain which feelings you get from this behaviour (irritation, anger, happiness) you will make it personal on your side. This will be the moment why the other person will understand why you want to give the feedback and why it is so important for you to get this out.
(4-5) Trying to interpretate and finding reasons for the behaviour at this late stage in the conversation, makes the most sense. You both already agreed the the behaviour is taking place, and you have already made it personal and important. So both of you are neutral and will be open for the interpretation and solution.
So as a little summary:
give feedback on the behaviour of someone else, if it triggers strong feelings in you, and you want to influence the behaviour in the future.
follow the rules of giving feedback for it to be the most successful
One of the most important things I’ve learned, is to be open when you go into a feedback conversation. Do not try to figure out why the other person is behaving in a certain way, before the conversation. You will have time and space in your conversation for doing so together.