Good and effective communication can result in meaningful relationships whether it is at work or at home. Feedback is one of the essential tools for good communication with the people around you. In personal relationships, it can be with family and friends, in professional relationships, it can be with colleagues, staff that you manage or your superiors. Here are some tips on how to give positive and constructive feedback that is both helpful and valuable

Why Is Feedback Important

There are many valuable benefits of improving the way you provide feedback that are helpful and important.

  1. It can enhance your positive relationships both at home and at work.
  2. It enables you to manage performance, most relevant in the workplace but also with family or housemates. It improves the performance of the collective or the team. 
  3. Meaningful and valuable feedback undoubtedly increases productivity around you
  4. It prevents really damaging conflicts from occurring
  5. It will improve your workplace culture.

Getting on top of how to give valuable feedback is definitely important.

Why Do You Need To Give Positive Feedback?

Positive feedback is an excellent way to reaffirm and reward positive behaviour. For example, have you noticed how often you tell people around you in your personal life that you love them? Yes, they know you love them, but telling them also enhances the relationship. Reminding and reaffirming what they probably already know. Likewise, in the workplace, reaffirming the positive behaviour and positive actions of people around you helps to maintain and foster a healthy working relationship.

How To Give Positive Feedback

Here is a formula of how you can make feedback more effective and more valuable to the person that you are giving feedback to. 

Step 1: Specific

Be specific when you are giving feedback. Don’t just make statements like “thanks for that” or “that was great”. People will be confused about what they did to deserve positive feedback. You need to be specific about the thing that they said or did that you appreciated. 

Step 2: Impact In The Moment

It is important to tell them what impact their words, actions or behaviour had at that moment when giving positive feedback so that they understand why it was valuable, helpful or supportive. 

Step 3: Advantage – Long Term

Make sure that you are telling them the long-term advantage of their actions.

Here is an example of the above steps in a home situation:

“Thank you for doing the dishes, it really freed up my time today. It meant that I was able to get to the hardware store just before it closed, to get those washers, to fix that leaky tap.”  

This formula is more valuable to the person you are giving feedback to.

Why Do You Need To Give Negative Feedback?

Quite often people avoid giving what we commonly call negative feedback also known as constructive criticism. There are ways to give feedback to people to let them know that you are not necessarily happy about something that has occurred whether it is something that they said or did.

How To Give Negative Feedback

 As with positive feedback, there is a way to give negative feedback. There is no point in just telling someone “I didn’t like that” or “I didn’t like the way you spoke to me”. Following the steps of positive feedback: 

Step 1: Specific

You need to be specific – what is it that they specifically said that didn’t work for you?

Step 2: Impact in the moment

You need to let them know the impact in that moment –  what did it do in that moment, why didn’t you like what it was that they said. 

Step 3: Specific (how you want it to be different)

Let them know what you would like them to do, give them some advice on how you would like them to do it differently in the future. It can be something that they are saying or doing around you whether at work or at home, a particular activity or task. Be specific on how you would like it to be.

Step 4: Impact in that moment (if adopting step 3)

Let them know what impact their behaviour would make if they made the change that you have suggested

Step 5: Advantage – long term from adopting Step 3.

Describe what the long term advantages would be if they did the thing you requested.

For example, someone made a joke that offended you in the workplace. It was a joke about grey hair and since you have grey hair you took it personally. (Specific)

You can give negative feedback to your colleague by telling them that you felt at that moment that they were singling you out because you were the only person in the room with grey hair. You felt that everyone looked at you and laughed and it appeared that the joke was on you. (Impact)

Tell them that you really love jokes on the workplace because it helps lighten the load.  (Specific Request)

Politely request that when jokes are made, can they not be about personal appearance, so that people don’t get offended. (Impact in the moment)

Let them know that jokes will help lighten the load and will help the team connect. They will help everyone get along in the long term and really contribute to keeping the space light and happy. (Advantage)

Ask them if they could make that change because such a change would be great. Ask them if it is okay with them, get them to buy into the request and asking them to participate in it. 

Use The Poo Sandwich Or KKK

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that detailed formula of being specific, letting them know the impact and informing them about long term benefits and advantages when giving negative feedback. It’s a hard one to remember, sometimes even I struggle to remember it. If you can remember the formula, that’s great!  Here’s a really simple cheat for it. It may not be terribly popular with a lot of people but it is very common, helpful and useful. Its called the poo sandwich which is otherwise known as the KKK, it consists of nice fluffy white bread sandwiching horrible, yukky stuff followed by nice white fluffy bread. In the same way, according to KKK, give them a kiss (something positive/nice bread), then give them a kick (something negative / poo) and then a kiss again (something positive/nice bread) When you need to give negative feedback rather than just slamming them with it, use this method. Here is a good example. 

  1. “I really value your advice” ( kiss / white bread/ positive statement)
  2. “Please don’t give it to me in front of the team when we have the team meeting, rather do it in private” (kick/poo/negative statement)
  3. “I do really appreciate your feedback, it helps me tremendously with my job”( kiss/ bread, positive statement)

If and when you do need to give negative feedback to the people around you, especially if you are responsible for communications or performance management, don’t do it over text or email. Always do it in person, on the phone or over a zoom call. You don’t want to do it over text or email as it could very easily be misinterpreted.

Do

  • Be specific when you are giving feedback
  • Tell them what impact their words have
  • Tell them the long-term advantage of their actions.

Don’t

  • Give very generalized feedback
  • Forget to sandwich a negative comment between two positive comments
  • Give negative feedback through text or email

If communication is causing you stress, why not book in a complimentary strategy session to help resolve some of these issues.

Assertive, Passive or Aggressive? Which one are you?

You may be eligible for a complimentary stress management strategy session.

Book a time for a chat to see if you’re eligible.

About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management strategist and stress management practitioner based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.

She is on a mission is to become the no.1 resource to help people unclutter the chaos and break free from the shackles of overwhelm so that they wake each day inspired and motivated to work in peak performance and to live on purpose. Barbara is known around Australia for her training, coaching, online programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships.
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