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How to give proper feedback

If you are a manager, a dad or a mom, or generally anyone who is responsible for anybody else, most of your time is spent giving feedbacks to your coworker or your children. Even friends in the same level give feedbacks to each others. We give feedbacks to a work, a result, a behaviour.

However, a feedback is often highly bound for subjectivity and emotional standpoint. When you give feedback, it is important to step back and realise that depending on what you’re giving feedback to, it is important not to judge the person itself. You’re basically giving feedback to the manifestation of that person, be it a work or a behaviour. Even mistakes are the products of the thoughts or the personality of a person. Thoughts and personality are built over time, over experiences and backgrounds (economic, social, cultural).

If you don’t like a result, you don’t simply say it’s bad. You don’t also simply say the person is bad or not capable enough. It could be your own mistakes. It is important to give feedbacks in a proper, and when necessary, in details.

It is not about the person, it is about the work

Do not judge the person as bad when the work is bad, however bad you think it is. There is no relationship between personality and the work they do. Try to look at how to improve the work, but not the personality. Creatives sometimes have “bad attitudes” (by that I mean they might work in odd hours, do not follow rules, or anything else), but they still potentially produce stellar results.

You might be luckier than your coworker, your friend, or your children

Be reminded that “bad” for you is a result of your own personal judgement and subjectivity. You might have seen enough “good” than your coworker or ther person to be able to tell it a “bad result”. You might have received better education. You’re lucky. Understand that it’s important to mentor and to see things through their perspectives.

It might be a domino effect

Garbage in, garbage out. It could be that you’re a bad manager after all. What you put or invested into your coworkers will result in the same lines. Assess your own managerial style, remember or find those old emails or conversations that might have a lead towards the results. It could be your own responsibility!

Other people spent loads of time to do the work, at least give a detailed feedback

Even if you don’t like a work, you are obliged to state, objectively and in details, what you don’t like about that particular work. More important, it’s not about what you don’t like, but about things that do not work well. You don’t need to write an essay, just list in bullets or numbers if you don’t have much time. Don’t just say, “It’s bad. Change it.”

This is not about you

Some bosses think they’re Kim Jong Il. They want their employees to think that he is always the client to serve. It’s not. Customers or your stakeholders are the ones to serve, and you’re giving your employees full trust to do your cause. So, this is not about you, but your customers.

That said, if you want to give feedback, be it a critic or a praise… remember to:

Give them in details

They’ve spent so much on their work, and now they deserve a detailed attention. Choose the best words and be elaborate.

Research your feedback

Be knowledgeable and research background information on the topic at hand. This is more important if you don’t master the topic at all.

Use neutral tones

Never use judgmental words and tendentious manner. Keep it neutral and objective as you possibly can.

Understand situations

Empathy, empathy, empathy. Understand the difficulties of the people you’re giving feedback to.

Be positive and light-hearted

Any feedback should contribute to the improvement of the work at hand and shouldn’t destroy it. Also, believe that it’s not the end of the world if the work is not 100% working as you expected. Give rooms for future improvements.

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