How well we give and receive feedback can determine the depth we experience in relationships, the impact we build in our careers, how quickly we bounce back from failure, and how sharply we chisel our skill sets.
Whether you’re working independently or in a team, in Corporate America or looking to grow yourself personally, constructive feedback is the quickest way to hone your craft and reach the sights you’ve set for yourself. The more you understand yourself, the more value you can add to other people, which is what coming together is all about!
Feedback goes both ways, and if we are vulnerable enough, often enough, we will find ourselves on both ends of the spectrum of giving and receiving.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when getting started to help navigate these waters that tend to make most people uncomfortable:
In my time training young professionals in this area, I noticed that one of the greatest struggles new leaders have is giving digestible, constructive feedback that is also encouraging. It’s important to eliminate bad habits and build great ones in a way that inflates the confidence of the one we’re guiding. The best way to do this is a build-break-build. In college I had a boss who loved feedback, but didn’t quite know how to communicate it properly. She had high standards, but didn’t set specific expectations that inspired her team to do a great job for her. This is when I learned that if you want leaders that take ownership in your mission, build-break-builds are crucial.
Your first build should be genuine and specific. Your break should be honest. And your last build should communicate what the result will be after the feedback is applied. Here’s an example: Rather than saying, “You’re doing awesome, but you didn’t clear the table fast enough,” get specific. “Emily, great job talking to that customer about our mission when they asked about us. Moving forward, make sure to clear their table while you’re talking to leave them with a clean space and to maximize your time.”
Though it might seem like you’re holding someone’s hand, they won’t see your feedback genuinely if you haven’t already established a relationship.
In order to create the result you want, you have to set the expectation specific tools to get there. People don’t care what you know until they know you care. A build-break-build model is the best way to combine expectations and tools with a relationship.
Have you ever gone into a review with your boss and she/he tells you 47 things you do really well, but you get so hung up on the _one opportunity for growth they mention that it drowns out all the areas they said you’re crushing it? If so, you’re not alone. A big piece of building my first business in the early days was recruiting. I was pretty terrible at first, but hungry to improve. I would put my phone in my pocket and my mentor would listen to each interview to critique me.
He ripped my first interview he listened to apart. A series of criticisms came out of his mouth so effortlessly you would have thought he was reading from a book about what not to do while conducting an interview. My tone was wrong, my verbiage messy, the depiction of the position unclear, and I’m sure if he would have seen my body language he would have had 35 more things to point out. As a fresh, new businessperson, I was devastated. I felt like I would never get better. But then he taught me about the 48-Hour Rule .
The 48-Hour Rule means you sit with feedback and live as if it’s true for 48 hours. This is typically enough time to let the emotions settle and digest the feedback in a rational way. Ask yourself, what is the relationship between this person and I? Is this a mentor who cares about me? A close friend who is looking out for me? If roles were reversed, would I see things in the same way without the emotion attached?
When I digested his feedback through these lenses, I was able to see that my sensitivities and insecurities were getting in my own way of growth.
Most people focus on the negative when they don’t actively seek out ways to improve themselves. Those who actively seek feedback learn that perfection is not the goal, growth is! When you fully grasp this concept, it becomes a means for you to accomplish your goals rather than the reason you still feel far away from them.
Feedback makes you a stronger leader, better friend, more skillful professional, all around better version of yourself, and is a sure indicator that someone sees you fit to invest in. You will grow in giving feedback when you first learn how to receive it. Ditch the comfort zone, throw away perfection, and get your growth on, girl!
Photos by: Marianna Jamadi for Yellow 108 x Yellow Co.