Getting Past Feedback Fears

Recently we discussed changing our perception about receiving feedback in order to better attain our goals. The flip side of this is giving feedback. When we offer thoughtful feedback to others, we can be part of the solution to problems. Yet why do we sometimes resist giving it? And what are some effective ways to present feedback so that others can more easily receive it?

One of the main reasons we resist giving feedback is we’re afraid that if we do offer it we won’t be liked or accepted, as detailed in Lesson #6 of Brian Klemmer’s book, When Good Intentions Run Smack into Reality. Employees might hesitate to offer feedback because their boss might take it personally, get angry and not promote them. We might withhold an opinion from a friend because we’re afraid the friend will feel hurt and consequently avoid us. We may fear that honest input will rock the boat in our marriage. But when we listen to our fears, our lives stop being about contribution and making a difference. How can we get beyond our feedback fears? Implement these three ways to make feedback more palatable to the receiver.

First, ask permission. Simply ask the person if they’re open to feedback. If you don’t, offering feedback may be like trying to walk through a closed door – in other words, you’re just wasting your breath. Whether it’s your spouse, your kids, an employee or a downline in your network marketing business, anytime you ask permission and they respond with a yes, you’ve got an open door to offer your evaluation. If the person says no, then reconsider whether or not you want to give feedback. You may decide to go ahead, but be aware that the chances they’ll receive it are pretty slim.

After you receive permission, choose your wording carefully. Use phrases such as, “My experience when this happened was…” or “From my viewpoint….” This language makes the other individual less likely to take your input personally or as truth. An example is: “My experience when you raised your voice was that it made me want to shut down. I felt like a little kid and you were like my dad yelling at me.” This statement says nothing about who is at fault or what is true. It is my experience or viewpoint of a particular situation.

A third step to offering feedback is to sandwich what didn’t work in between what did work. Suppose a friend in network marketing invites you to listen in on his presentation to a prospect. Using the sandwich technique, you might later say, “My experience of what worked was that you were confident and specific in your request. From my viewpoint, it didn’t seem as if you established a connection with the prospect. Another thing that I thought worked well was the organization of the material in your presentation.” This format circumvents, to a degree, people’s attachment to good and bad, and the tendency for others to take your input personally.

Let’s determine to be a part of the solution to problems by learning to offer feedback. Practice these three steps: ask permission, chose your wording carefully, and apply the sandwich technique to increase your contribution to the world around you.

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