How To Get What You Want...From The People You Want It From
Successful feedback is usually associated with improving
employee productivity, but feedback is not just for
supervisor-employee relationships. Being able to deliver honest,
constructive feedback is also vital to healthy relationships at
You give feedback to your children, spouse, friends, doctor, and
even your hair stylist.
If you run a home based business, you also need to be able to
give effective messages to suppliers, customers, marketers, and
web-site designers, just to name a few.
Being unable to give feedback successfully could set you up for
feeling taken advantage of, frustrated, under- appreciated, and
Putting these methods into practice will help you provide honest
communication that will protect your time and needs, yet even
improve your relationships.
1. Successful communication requires that you get the other
person's full attention. Plan your discussion at a time when
both parties can focus on the situation. Asking your teenager to
rethink the way she's spending her money while she's got a
rented movie and friends in the other room is guaranteed to be
ignored. Telling an employee to redo a report as you rush out to
a meeting is almost always going to generate hurt feelings.
Choose a quiet time, and schedule enough time so that you don't
feel obliged to rush through the conversation.
2. Successful communication is on-going, not an out of
left-field ambush. When someone does something great, don't
assume they know how you feel. Tell them! The same is true for
when you need to correct a behavior. "May I make a suggestion"
are very valuable words for an on-going dialogue of behavior.
3. Successful communication focuses on behavior, not
personalities. People will always respond more readily to facts
than fault-finding. Don't make it personal. Always avoid sarcasm
or insults. Whether it's negative or positive feedback, connect
it to specific examples, which will help take the focus off the
individual and highlight the behavior instead. Tell him exactly
what he did that was not acceptable, or in the reverse help him
to continue appropriate behavior by praising his accomplishments.
4. Successful communication will motivate, not discourage
individuals. We all feel the need to hear from others how we are
doing. It's a basis for communication and trust. A discussion
resulting in an exchange of ideas and information is always a
powerful motivator. Knowing what actions you want, what your
goals are, and having a method to give them to you will motivate
people to please you. Motivated people have specific goals and
look for ways to achieve them, and efficiency is a natural
result of that.
5. Successful communication focuses on one thing at a time. Be
specific. If you are giving negative feedback, be direct about
what the problem is, stick to the topic, and avoid dragging in
other problems. Instead of telling your teenager that you've
been proud of her attitude lately, compliment an exact time she
was willing to do something without a fuss. Instead of saying
"Hey Chuck, nice work on that project", try "Hey Chuck, I really
appreciate you working so closely with XYZ Vendor to get that
equipment delivered on time".
6. Successful feedback focuses on things the individual can do
something about. Feedback concerning matters that are out of the
individual's control is not useful. It only increases a person's
frustration to be criticized for something they can't do
anything about. Reprimanding your teenager for spending too much
time on an assignment is unfair since she can't control her
teachers' requests. Expecting your associate to write a business
letter the same way you would is impossible since he can't read
7. Successful communication offers solutions. When you must give
negative feedback to someone, always focus on what corrective
action they can take. Be willing to give them the support and
tools needed to correct the situation. Discuss the options, or
explain the rules and clearly define the consequences. The
objective of successful communication is to help the person view
the information as an opportunity to learn, instead of a threat.
By offering specific examples, you will be able to relate how
changing his behavior will help him achieve his goal.
8. Try using the "feedback sandwich". A feedback sandwich is a
language tool that assists you in giving clear and specific
messages in an acceptable way. Begin with a specific praise,
then your constructive advice using the tools above, then
additional praise. It's very important that your acknowledgments
be true about the individual, not just general positive