Have you ever needed to tell another person how you really feel or need to be treated? Maybe a situation where a close friend consistently leaves you waiting when you arranged to meet at an agreed time and location? Of course, when they do eventually arrive they are briefly apologetic, and perhaps to hide their embarrassment they lead the conversation as though there had been no inconvenience to you, their friend.
Have you held back saying what you really feel about being treated like this? Many people avoid giving this sort of feedback. Some of the underlying reasons can be to avoid conflict, not wanting to ‘rock the boat’, fear of potentially losing a good friend.
We may even justify our avoidance with self-talk such as “it’s not really such a big deal” or “maybe I have done this so who am I to complain?”.
The problem we create by not providing our friend with feedback is we make it okay to be treated this way and not only by this friend, but by others as well. This can lead to resentment, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and even depression. Perhaps our friend is totally unaware of how their behaviour is affecting us and others. By speaking up we give them the opportunity to recognise and change their behaviour.
Delivering feedback when we have built up resentment can result in an undesirable outcome for both parties – a lose/lose situation.
The key is to deliver the feedback in such a way that the person receiving it feels open to hearing it without becoming defensive. This results in a positive outcome for both parties – a win/win situation.
What if the situation is reversed? Receiving feedback can also be extremely challenging.
Who can relate to feedback being given to us in our early formative years? This feedback was often instructional, delivered ‘in the moment’ without us requesting it, and – most often – about what we had ‘done wrong’. It could also have been delivered in anger.
So, it’s quite normal for most people to have a negative reaction when we hear the word ‘feedback’. In our formative years, we didn’t have the cognitive skills to analyse the feedback we were given to differentiate that it was about the behaviour rather than the person. This often resulted in the formation of a belief that we are a ‘bad’ or ‘incapable’ person, rather than that we were demonstrating unhelpful, unacceptable and unsupportive behaviour.
We carry this mindset into our adult yeas so that when we hear the word ‘feedback’ we cringe and often react from the memory of how we received that feedback as a child.
The reality is that feedback is a valuable opportunity for us to learn and improve.
There are methods of delivering and receiving feedback that improve communication to achieve outstanding results in both business and our personal lives.
From a business perspective, the manner in which we receive feedback can elevate how we are perceived by a client or colleague. To go to a defensive response can often develop into a conflict between the two parties. Alternatively, we can improve a relationship when we receive the feedback with gratitude and allow time to evaluate before responding.
Remember, feedback is an expression of opinion rather than fact from the deliverer’s point of view.