Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Art of Giving Positive Feedback

Everything people do has an impact. But much of the time, they may not be aware of what that impact is. They may not realize that you genuinely appreciate something they’ve done. Or, they may not know when something they’re doing is making it hard for you and others.

Two enduring truths about feedback:

1. We should give five times as much positive feedback as we do constructive feedback. But this almost never happens in real life.

2. It’s much harder to give constructive feedback.

If you’re unhappy about something that someone has done, how will he know, if you don’t tell him? The problem is, you may be nervous about doing that. You may not be sure how to talk about it, or you may be concerned that he’ll get defensive or upset with you.

Some ways of giving feedback work better than others. The more confident you are that your feedback will be well-received, the more comfortable you’ll be when talking about it.

So what’s the most effective way to tell someone about his behavior?

I’ll describe positive feedback first, since it’s more pleasant and so much easier, and there’s a "best practice" way to do it. It involves three elements:

1. Describe what the person did - the positive action.

2. Express your delight (feelings).

3. Explain why you liked what they did (reasons).

You can communicate these elements in any way that feels natural and sincere.

Here’s an example…

Chris – “Dale, I saw the changes you made to our home page.”

Dale – “Yeah?”

Chris – “I really like them! It’s a huge improvement.”

Dale – “Thank you.”

Chris – “It’s so clean now. Our message pops and it's easy to navigate. And I love that rotating graphic. It’s eye-catching and sends our main messages in an engaging way.”

Dale – “Emma helped with those.”

Chris – “Thanks, I’ll mention it to her. They’re fantastic. And I really like it that now there’s only one call to action. That’s really important.”

Dale – “What did you think about the changes in the logo?”

Chris – “I like it. The blends make it stand out. I think the Home page is on a whole new level now. I love it.”

Dale – “Thank you!”

It’s always nice when people achieve things. It’s always nice when somebody's a hero. People love to be recognized for their best work. These are pleasant encounters.

Not so easy and not so pleasant are the times when things aren’t going well - when you need to tell somebody that what he’s doing is causing problems. It’s more difficult to give constructive feedback.

That’s a different skill, and I’ll talk about that in my next post.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, PhD, Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

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