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How to Provide Feedback

To be helpful, feedback should be given in a way that the recipient:

  • can understand the information,

  • can accept the information and

  • is able to do something based upon the information.

Certain types of feedback should be avoided since it only serves the needs of the person giving it, not the person receiving it.

  • Perceptions, reactions and opinions should be presented as such and not as facts.

  • Feedback should refer to the relevant performance, behavior or outcomes, not to the individual as a person.

  • Feedback should be given in terms of specific, observable behavior, not in general or global terms.

  • Feedback should avoid using loaded terms that produce emotional reactions and raise the defenses.

  • Feedback should be concerned with those things over which an individual can exercise some control.

How to Receive Feedback

Receiving feedback always offers the possibility of learning something valuable and can serve as a basis for future improvement. Please consider the following:

  • Listen carefully.

  • Try not to let defenses build, but mentally note questions or disagreement.

  • Paraphrase what you think you have heard to check your perception.

  • Ask questions for clarification and ask for examples in those areas which are unclear to you or in which disagreement exists. Again, paraphrase answers.

  • Carefully evaluate the accuracy and potential value of what you have been hearing.

  • Gather additional information from other sources or by observing your own behavior and other persons' reactions to it.