Here’s key knowledge to have before giving feedback
In my speech communication and sales presentation consulting work, when I talk about receiving feedback, I relay a Western and an Eastern view. The Western view, from Somerset Maugham is: ‘People ask for criticism, but they only want praise’. The Eastern view, attributed to Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching is: ‘When the master makes a mistake she realises it, having realised it she admits it, having admitted it she corrects it . . . she considers those who point out her faults as her most benevolent teachers. . . she considers her enemy, as the shadow that she herself cast.’
Both views are valid. If you have to give feedback to someone I suggest you start from the ‘praise’ perspective. The language you could use is: ‘What I liked is. . . ‘. Then, reflecting the Eastern view, the language could be, ‘What I suggest is . . . ‘.
If you want to improve a skill or a technique – both types of feedback are important, but suggestions on where you can improve, is more powerful.
At this point in time, I find that a minority of the people I work with, seek out candid feedback on where they can improve. But as relayed in recent posts a sincere desire for feedback, on where you can improve, is invaluable.
When you ask for feedback, be specific on what you want feedback on. For example, rather than ask someone to observe you in a presentation and tell you how you went, ask them to observe your ‘opening hook’ and whether it grabbed attention or not. (I’ve created a simple Scorecard, for my client’s use, that they can give to a person for written feedback. If you want a soft copy of it, please email me and ask for it at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The ‘how to’ for this post is this: Ask for and seek out specific feedback.