I once heard the story about two writing groups. In one group, the feedback was concentrated on the things, that the members were doing wrong, and in the second group, the feedback was consisted mostly of the the things, that the writers did right. After a couple of years, none of the people in the second group were writing anymore. But from the people of the second group, some were even published authors already.
As illustrated by the above story, the type of feedback can make or break a person. It is true, that just as there exist as many of different people, there is also true, that everybody will take the feedback differently. Some might be more offended than other. For some, it might leave a bigger impact the others. But there are some common themes in giving feedback, that you could, or not, if that is you wish, use to try and minimize the damage, while trying to optimize the outcome.
So what is feedback? Feedback is the reverse process, and it goes from output to input. It carries the information about the process and it shows, that the process give the desired results, or not. In case of the latter, there can also be information about how to improve, not only what to improve.
We know to types of feedback, as shown in the story on the beginning, the positive and the negative feedback.
The positive feedback is made to encourage. Just remember the last time somebody told you, that you are doing something really good. You probably felt more courage, and you self-confidence increased. You needed less security behind you, and you were more centered in yourself, the next time you had to do it. It also have a good effect on your motivation.
The positive only feedback also have some drawbacks. The first one is, that the changes only came in increments. The only positive feedback does not have the information, if your whole path is wrong. The radical changes are rare and difficult for people to see. The other pitfall is that after some time, you only start nodding along, no longer having the same effect on you. On the other hand, should the positive feedback stop, people can start asking themselves, that did they do wrong, some will start self-criticizing and some of them will fall into pessimism, or even depression.
The negative feedback does deal with most of the positive feedback drawbacks. Since it concentrates on what it doesn’t work, you know what to work on. You are more likely to scrap the whole process, if it doesn’t work and start from scratch. Also, they are sometimes the only thing, that can raise us from the OK-plateau.
But since it is not motivational, there is a lot bigger change of people quitting, since they will have a feeling, that they are not good for that and they will never approve, so they quit.
Rounding the above couple of paragraph, we can see, that for a effective feedback, we need the negative and the positive feedback, preferably together.
What I am doing the most, is staying objective. When I am giving feedback, I don’t judge, I normally not ask for reasons and I don’t expect anything. If a person is late, I tell him that he was late, but I keep any type of judgement out of it. If they did something right, I mention it to them as well, so to tell them, that I had notice. But I am not making a big deal out of it. I am using this, because in my opinion, people want to be the best they can, but in order to do that, they have to know, where they are right now. Being noticed also helps with the performance.
The other one that I sometimes use is the feedforward. I use it, when I am trying to make a person see their mistake more clearly. Asking open questions, I get him to think or talk and see,l what will happened in the future, if they continue doing that. How it will impact their own life and how will it impact the society and the ecosystem, that they live in it. We usually came to understanding, and they change. But I only use that method, when I think there could be big consequences, if they continue doing that.
But for start, just think about what kind of feedback you want to get, and try to start giving that type of feedback to others. If you add your knowledge to what kind of feedback do they want, you are going to make a great evaluator.