In the professional world, you’ll find yourself giving feedback on a near daily basis. Here are four tips to help you provide productive, positive, and meaningful insights.
Keep it Positive!
Not all of your feedback has to be complimentary, but it’s important to keep the conversation positive. You never want your collaborator to feel belittled by your comments; this may discourage them from seeking advice in the future. If you have to break the news about a project that isn’t working, keep it optimistic and caring.
Alternatively, try the “compliment sandwich” method: begin your feedback with something you liked about the project, discuss your concerns, then finish with another aspect you enjoyed. This method is helpful in balancing compliments and criticism; it gives you the opportunity to acknowledge the positive aspects of the work, while still discussing what has room for improvement.
When giving feedback, the end goal of the conversation is to initiate positive changes in the project being discussed. The more specific you are with your suggestions, the easier it will be for your collaborator to take action based on them. Instead of giving general statements like “it was good” or “it could be better”, consider why you feel this way. Try pointing out specific elements that you like or dislike; this gives your collaborator a strong, literal basis to work from.
Keep it Two-Sided
Remember that giving feedback should feel more like a conversation than a lecture. Although your comments are the main focus, you want to make sure that the discussion feels open for both parties to contribute. Leaving space for questions is important, as well as talking through your collaborator’s opinion of their own work. Finally, end the conversation by brainstorming together. After all, two heads are better than one.
To keep it short, the human memory has lots of room for improvement. Even if you feel confident in your recollection skills, it can’t hurt to write down the broad strokes of your thoughts before giving feedback. This not only ensures that you won’t forget anything, but can help you organize your thoughts into a cohesive set of comments.
Giving meaningful feedback can be difficult, especially if you don’t have much experience with the process. With practice, however, gracefully giving and receiving feedback is an invaluable skill in the workplace. The next time someone presents you with their project, use these tips to make the most of the conversation.