Every day in our lives we come across a situation where we want to give feedback to either a life partner, work colleague, or even someone random in the street. However, most of the time we find it difficult and end up keeping it to ourselves.
Some of the reasons why you don’t give feedback can be:
- You are afraid of being embarrassed by the other person.
- You are afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings.
- You are afraid to disturb the harmony of your relationship with that person.
- You think that you don’t have the right or the authority to give feedback.
- You just don’t care about that person (hopefully not).
When you decide not to give feedback to someone, you are simply harming the other person and yourself.
Let me tell you how.
You harm the other person by not helping him/her:
- Noticing something that he/she is doing wrong.
- Noticing something that he/she can do better.
- Noticing something embarrassing that he/she is doing.
- Become a better version of him/herself.
You harm yourself by not giving the other person a chance to do things right, the way you want, or avoid doing things in a way you don’t want which eventually help to keep your relationship healthy and strong with this person.
Think about this example: a person unintentionally keeps interrupting everyone because he is a passionate person. If you decided not to open his eyes and let him see the impact of this behavior on the long term, you and a lot of people might distance themselves from that person. As a result, you will not benefit from a lot of good things that this person’s can help you with in work or life.
That’s why you should start to help others and give them feedback. But if you decided to do it, then you must do it right.
Simply use the following 3 steps.
1- Clarify your goal and intention
Start your feedback by explaining to the other person why you want to give him/her feedback. If you start your feedback by jumping straight away on the point, you will leave a chance to the other person to misunderstand you and doubt your intention.
That’s why it is very helpful to let the person know how much you care about him/her, you want him/her to do good in life and become a better version of him/herself.
- “You know Adam how much I care about you and want you to always do good in your job.”
- “I would like to start by telling you that I do respect what you do, your opinion, and I want you to keep it up and always progress.”
- “I’m sure you trust the fact that I always want you to become better and excel in your life.”
2- Ask for permission
Communication is a psychological game. If you play it right, you will get the most out of it and vice versa. People by nature can get defensive easily if they felt that they are being attacked or criticized.
That’s why you should prepare the other person mentally and pressure him/her psychologically to be open and not to act defensive by asking for permission first before your giving feedback.
- “I have noticed something in the previous meeting, can I share it with you?”
- “I have observed something yesterday when we were together. Would you mind if I share my opinion about it?”
- “Do you mind if I share with you something that I have observed last week?”
- “Are you interested in my opinion about your last presentation?”
NOTE: Avoid saying “Can I give you feedback?”
3- Follow the OSCAR feedback model
The OSCAR model is a very effective way of giving complete and helpful feedback
The observation here is basically a generic short summary of the unwanted behavior.
- “I have observed that you come to the office late often.”
- “I have observed that you don’t help your colleague XYZ as much.”
- “I have observed that you keep texting on your phone often during the team meeting.”
The first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when they got told generic feedback, is that “when did it happen?” or “Give me an example”. That’s why the second thing you should state straight away is a specific situation that helps the person remember.
- “For example, yesterday and the day before you arrived at the office around 15 mins late.”
- “For example, today when your colleague XYZ asked you to sit with him for 5 mins you said no.”
- “For example, during yesterday’s meeting, you were texting on your phone a lot.”
Everyone has a fair justification in mind regarding any behavior they do. Even criminals somehow managed to convince themselves that what they do is OK and they have an excuse for it. Basically, if they think it is not right, they would not have done it at all.
That’s why the Consequence element is one of the most important elements of any feedback because this is where you show the other person how this behavior can harm them in the short or long term.
Note: make sure you relate the harm of the behavior to something this person cares about not something only you care about to ensure the effectiveness of it.
- “…and doing this can impact your professional image in front of your colleagues and delay your promotion.”
- “…and doing this can give a bad impression about you and affect your annual review”.
- “…and doing this can put you in an embarrassing situation if anyone from those who attend the meeting comment on it during the meeting.”
Up until here, you have clearly explained the behavior, reminded him/her of a situation, and the negative impact that this can lead to. Basically, you have generated a need for help to avoid that negative impact.
Give the person an alternative behavior that can help that person achieve the same goal without causing any negative impact as per the Consequences element.
Note: The word Alternative was chosen for a very specific reason. The word sounds light and less demanding which does not trigger the defensiveness of the other person and leads to better results. So please avoid using “You must do”, “You should do”, “You have to do” or “The correct behavior is”.
- “Alternatively, you can try to come to the office 1 hour early and leave early.”
- “Alternatively, you can explain to your XYZ colleague that you are busy at the moment but will be free after some time to help, but you are happy to help.”
- “Alternatively, you can excuse yourself out of the meeting room to make a quick call and come back.”
Since you explained in the Consequence element the negative impact of the unwanted behavior, you need also to explain the positive impact of following the alternative behavior to answer the simple question in the other person’s mind “and why do I need to do what you said?”
- “As a result, your team will think of you as a professional team member who respects the company policy.”
- “As a result, your manager and your peers will think of you as a strong team player who adds value to the team overall not only cares about his own work.”
- “As a result, people will understand the urgency of the situation and you will remain your professional image.”
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