On feedback

“Praise in public, chastise in private.” — I can’t recall exactly where I got that but the idea sort of stuck. It just made perfect sense to me. I reckon I’m not quite needy when it comes to external validation i.e., I don’t crave for having my good work publicly lauded. I’d appreciate it and it does give me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. But it’s just not my main motivation. I guess I like it better when I get good feedback when I least expect it. Say when a colleague leaves me a thank-you note, or when someone tells me that another colleague liked having worked with me. But that’s just me. Other folks might actually prefer the public recognition, so it wouldn’t hurt to give it when it’s deserved.

On the other hand, when I make a boo-boo, I think I pretty much give myself a hard enough time already. There’s the feeling of guilt or inadequacy, and the feeling of being so sorry for messing up. From there, I’d like to bounce back and think of how to keep the problem from recurring. I’d like to be able to turn things around and work on the problem. For my case, I don’t think publicly scolding me or telling me off would help me in bouncing back. And I suppose that also goes for other people. Public humiliation is an unnecessary evil. It gives off too much negative energy just to achieve something which can be accomplished with an open, straightforward chat.

So there… Praise in public, chastise in private. The praising part seems easy enough. As for chastising, well, I’d like to do away with it altogether but sometimes there’s just no going around it. Anyway, I stumbled upon a post (which I wish I found sooner) and it lists out some ideas on structuring feedback (link):

  • It must be given soon after the behavior or event occurs. Don’t wait until a behavior becomes a pattern to discuss it.
  • It must describe precisely what occurred, with enough specificity for the person to have no trouble recalling the behavior or incident.
  • It should be limited to one issue at a time. People are more likely to become defensive if a list is presented rather than just addressing a particular issue or behavior.
  • Language must be non-evaluative when delivering the message. Do not ascribe attributes, motives, attitudes, or intentions.
  • Give feedback only related to the useful, actionable information. If a person has no control over the behavior, it may not be appropriate to give feedback about it.
  • Feedback should establish an opportunity for growth and/or change. Focus on the future desired state to underscore your ongoing investment in the relationship.

And I think the three steps to keep minds open when speaking up also helps. I got it from Egonomics and previously posted it before (link):

  1. Establish permission — Just as you knock before entering, you establish permission before you speak up. You don’t want to come in uninvited.
  2. Make your intent clear — Instead of having others think the worst, just be outright with your intentions. You don’t want to be misinterpreted.
  3. Be candid — Just be straight to the point. But of course, exercise tact. You don’t want to bore people with details nor be rude.

One thought on “On feedback

  1. Pingback: On responsibility, integrity, contribution « testkeis

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