Gauging how to give and receive feedback techniques

 In Mindset

‘People ask for criticism, but they only want praise’.

Somerset Maugham

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When I work with clients, near the start of a workshop/directing a pitch session, I discuss how to give feedback, by relaying the above quote. After hearing it, many people nod in agreement.

Then I share a quote from the Tao Te Ching:

‘When he (the master) makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it.

He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.’

This quote is also met with nods.

I then suggest, that when giving feedback, participants keep both quotations in mind – while giving slightly more emphasis to the ‘people only want praise’ one.

In a similar vein to the above quotes, here is a quote from John Gardner, the late, American public servant.

‘Pity the leader who’s caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers.’

What’s the point in sharing the above quotes. Simply this.

Giving feedback can greatly benefit a person. Keeping the quotes in mind can help a person receive feedback.

In addition, pay attention to a person’s readiness to receive feedback for improvement. When in doubt of a person’s readiness to receive feedback for improvement – postpone giving it until another time.

If you are a person that welcomes feedback from others  – that is, what you did well and where you can improve – you may need to prod a person, for them to give you unvarnished feedback. 

You might say, ‘Yes I know the presentation/my performance was good, but if there was one thing that would have made it better, what would that thing be?’ If you do prod further, they’ll often reveal an area you can work on.

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: Before your next presentation identify a person whom you believe will be open to giving you unvarnished feedback.

Direct them to focus on one or two things in your presentation (eg, your opening, clarity of the key message, how you handled Q&A, the certainty projected through your voice and body etc).

After the presentation – ask them for private feedback. When they’ve stopped speaking, prod them for more ideas.

Check out this post on ‘Over-eager, false listening’

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