Feedback is the breakfast of champions. If we want to improve we need to have feedback, we need to review how we are performing and what we can do to look to improve.
That’s a fact. Non-negotiable in my opinion.
The question is how do we manage that feedback, and how we handle it can have a dramatic impact on the rate of improvement and overall success.
A lot of people talk about providing constructive criticism.
Which I think is well-intentioned, but here are three issues I see with that and why you should think differently.
This is the definition of criticism from the Oxford English dictionary
“the act of expressing disapproval of somebody/something and opinions about their faults or bad qualities; a statement showing this disapproval”
Given that’s the definition of criticism how do you express disapproval constructively?
It doesn’t matter what word you put in front of disapproval, it is always going to be perceived negatively. And rarely does something positive comes from a negative approach.
Try asking people if they would like some constructive criticism. What their reaction.
It immediately puts people into a defensive position, one where they will look to explain why the do what they do. As much as we say we want feedback, most people really don’t like it, criticism doesn’t feel good no matter how constructive you may think it is given.
When people become defensive they are less likely to be open, they won’t hear what you say, in fact, they may even reject it, and ignore what could be well-intentioned advice.
If we want to get the best outcome, if we truly want to help people improve then it starts with our mindset.
If we set out with the intention of helping people and being supportive it will change how we approach the topic/issue.
One way to do this is to think of giving people feedforward.
Telling them how they can do things better, how they can improve performance.
Just changing the word from feedback to feedforward will help us position our message in a much more positive manner.
We don’t need to dwell on the past or tell people how bad or poorly they did, we can shift our focus to the future, to the improved state.
By doing that it will transform the experience for all involved, and when it starts off positive it has a higher likelihood of finishing positively.
Try to focus on the future outcome, use phrases like, hey can I show you how to take it to the next level. Can I show you want I think will help you get a better result? Can I give you some suggestions which I have found helped me to get better outcomes?
Just look at that language, and imagine how you would feel if someone approached you like that. How would you feel, how would you respond?
This is why I have banished constructive criticism from my vocabulary.
You get much better results by focusing on feedforward. It’s positioned positively, it future-focused, and it aims to help people do better which is engaging and motivational.