Photo By: Joe Mull

Better Feedback Language can mean Better Feedback Outcomes

Feedback; is it seen as a punishment or gift in your workplace?

First of all, I love talking about feedback. Why? Because there’s so much we can gain from it! But not everyone has as much love for it. In fact, so many workplaces find it difficult to get staff excited about feedback. Because most people have a real fear of being told they’re not as good at something as they maybe thought they were. There’s strange psychology around criticism that, as humans, we automatically take criticism as a threat. But really, it shouldn’t be.

Recently I did a little video with my colleague, Emily, about what feedback feels like. Emily said for her feedback is like an opportunity. Boom!

An ‘opportunity’ is such a perfect way to put it, and this is the way a true leader sees feedback. For a good leader, anything can be an opportunity. Sure, there’s still probably plenty of anxiety around negative feedback, even for the greatest leaders––it’s pretty hard to take.

For the uninitiated, naturally, we want to think that we’re doing our best and, naturally, we imagine our best is good enough. So, when we receive negative feedback or feedback that says we could do with some improvement, naturally, we might freak out! There’s no wonder why our employees don’t always feel comfortable about feedback.

But how can we turn that around for our team? Short of giving everyone great reviews all the time (that might not necessarily be accurate), how can we make feedback a practice that’s welcomed as an opportunity––positive or negative feedback?

Answer. We can learn how to do feedback properly.

And that begins by working on communicating our feedback properly. Language is so important.

For a start, we can stop looking at negative feedback as “negative”. Let’s change our language and refer to it as “constructive”. You see, the difference between receiving negative feedback and receiving constructive feedback is negativity isn’t positive. Ha! Constructive feedback, however, might be pointing out the same weaknesses, but it is delivered in a way that is constructive to someone’s development, rather than a dig at their shortfalls.

See what I mean?

Does your workplace culture nurture the fear around feedback? Do you notice your team cower at the thought of a review?
Then it’s time to turn the culture around. And only then will you get the true benefits of feedback. Your team will start to see their little feedback packages as an opportunity, the way Emily does. Rather than a punishment.

If you need more reason to feed the feedback train…

There’s actually some science behind successful people accepting criticism in a positive way. See, the psychology behind feeling rotten if we fail is because, *very simply put*, our beautiful little brains only project to us the idea that we are right. Our best mate, our brain, being a really good mate, doesn’t record memories of being wrong as strongly as it does memories of being awesome. Therefore, when news comes from someone else that we may not be awesome at something––even if we deep down know it’s true––it hits us from left field––and, of course, we’re thrown.

Flip it now. Here’s a little mindset exercise. As soon as we can take that criticism, accept it, and turn it into an opportunity, rather than seeing it as a failure, it no longer matters if we were “wrong” or not. It just matters that we use the information to help us succeed.

Some of the most successful people take failure and wrap it in a sweet tortilla, fill it with chocolate and dip it in syrup. Not literally, of course, but through mindset training and language. Much easier to swallow that way. Less punishment, more gifts. See?

Have you received some constructive feedback lately and seen it as an opportunity?

 

Written by HR Gurus Managing Partner, Jessy Warn

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