In an earlier post at the start of the year I wrote that this year I would go after feedback. I want to grow through giving and receiving feedback. Well we are now over 8 months into the year and I have mostly stuck to my plan! I have been learning as I go, through the mistakes and the successes. At times it has been toe curlingly awkward and at other times simple and powerful.
To my own surprise I have actually found more of a challenge in giving feedback than receiving. As I said previously no-one particularly likes to open themselves up to criticism but I think that this realisation also creates a healthy humility when it comes to giving other people feedback. I thought I would share a few thoughts today on what I am learning about offering feedback to others.
Firstly one of the interesting things that happened the moment I positioned my heart to go after feedback was it came and found me! I think it was even before I posted my last blog on the topic someone came up to me out of the blue and asked for feedback on something they had done! Within weeks there were multiple opportunities to both give and invite feedback. I love how even as we start to turn ourselves towards an area of growth, we find God waiting with the opportunities we need. Anyway my thoughts so far…
Build a bridge
Giving feedback to other people is a privilege and an opportunity. Unwelcome feedback however does nothing but create disconnection. We need to earn the right to give other people input. The bible is quite clear that we should deal with the log in our own eye before pointing out the speck in another. Humility is a must.
However often life puts us in leadership positions where we actually have a duty to give feedback to those in our care or oversight. Here the real challenge is avoid using only our position alone as our authority, do we have relational credibility. Have we built a bridge strong enough to carry the weight of the feedback we are about to offer.
Of course when most of us think of feedback we think of the negative. I am convinced that this actually just reveals our perspective on life, at least it often does for me. When we start to see people as God sees them we can’t help but pour encouragement, strength and hope into all our relationships. It is not a false thing but a genuine love that reveals what truly balanced feedback looks like. I am learning to take every opportunity to build relational bridges. Even when we have something for someone to work on it must come from a place of building up not tearing down.
If in doubt try it out on yourself.
One of the challenges I have found in offering feedback to others is avoiding generalities. I can be genuinely impressed with something someone has done but some how “That was great” doesn’t carry the encouragement I hoped! I have started to try and train myself to recognise what specifically it is that is good or what specifically could be worked on. I have become aware that quite often I don’t give this level of thought to things!
However I know that the more specific an encouragement the greater the impact on me personally. Likewise the more specific a challenge the easier it is to do something about. If you want to really encourage someone, relate something they did to an aspect of their character you admire.
Giving feedback can be awkward – at least for me! Finding that first sentence that segways from chit-chat to challenge is an art form. One which I have not yet mastered!
In the moment it can be easy to stumble clumsily failing to get your point over. The thing I am working on is approaching feedback with peace. For me that can be as simple as breathing and reminding myself who God says I am. A work in progress but it always goes better for everyone when I’m at peace.
As I grow in my leadership I long to be the sort of person who develops those around me. Feedback is going to be a key part of that journey. Giving feedback that encourages, inspires and grows people with a heart of humility. I never want to blasé with the responsibility and opportunity.
These are my thoughts so far, I’m hopefully learning with each opportunity.
What tips do you have for giving others feedback?