The power of feedback

Have you ever thought that people overestimate the importance of feedback since good self-management can absolutely substitute it?

If yes, then most likely, you never received good feedback!

Let's dive deeper into what is feedback, why it is important, and what advantages it can bring you.

Can we live without feedback?

When people work together, they always like and dislike something in others. They may express their thoughts or keep them quiet, but they continue feeling positive and negative emotions anyway. And these emotions influence their behavior, whether they want it or not.

For example, your colleague often crosses your workplace borders - takes your chair, drinks from your cup, and doesn't clean it. You don't like it, but do not tell about it. You wait till this person realizes mistakes and stops making them, but it doesn't happen.

What does happen next? - You become angry; then you reduce communication to some common phrases; then you become more biased in work-related discussions.

What does your colleague see? - You don't like him/her and how he/she works.

Did you tell it? - No, but shared non-verbally.

Did you mean it? - Not really, you didn't like it when your colleague took your cup or chair; it was not about a person in general or one's work.


This example shows us that technically, you can't deny the existence of feedback, even if you do not share it verbally. However, you can choose how to provide it so that to avoid misunderstandings.
So, feedback always exists even if you do not request it or give deliberately.

What is feedback?

If you search for a definition of feedback, an average reply will be "it is a piece of information about a person's performance and behavior, which can be used as a basis for improvement. Mainly it requires two parties - the giver and the receiver."

All is true; however, it doesn't explain what is "a piece of information"- a word, a message, an email, or speech? Also, it is not very clear how it can become a basis for improvement. Should feedback always cause and improvement? Can feedback cause deterioration of something? How should it be given then?

These questions bring us to different types of feedback:

1. Destructive
2. Non-constructive
3. Constructive.


The difference between them and how they can be given we will clarify further.

Types of feedback

1. Destructive - it is an impulsive set of emotions. Typically, this type occurs when a person regularly suppresses the feelings on different subjects and do not share them with anyone. Usually, it doesn't help anyone. However, it may be considered as a strong signal that it is necessary to set up a feedback sharing process and work with emotional intelligence.

Example: "You are awfully inconsiderate. Really! I'm shock you could make such a stupid mistake".

2. Non-constructive - this type is less impulsive, but not very helpful as well. It can show that a problem exists but without details and way of resolution. It may occur when a feedback giver does not want to spend much time preparing or just does not know how to give it.

Example: "This is not good. You should redo this task."

3. Constructive - good, detailed, prepared, and result-oriented.

Example: "It seems to me you didn't check if you completed this task properly. It caused a misunderstanding during our call with the client. I had to say sorry many times, and currently, the client has doubts about our quality standards. I'd appreciate if you could check your work more carefully. Please correct me if I said anything wrong? Is there anything I can help you with?"

Does this type require more words? That is right! However, it also gives more understanding of each other, more opportunities for action steps, and a good mood.

Most likely, everyone faced a situation when destructive feedback seemed to be the best option to share. However, you'd most likely prefer to receive constructive one, even after making mistakes.

Constructive feedback is the most forward-looking type since it is both sincere and humane, takes into account the situation, and allows discussion.

Why is feedback important?

You may think now that constructive feedback is essential because it helps to share your feelings on time and clarify what you did wrong.

That's true. However, feedback is also a significant part of the person's motivation and can become a strong foundation for the company's culture.

To explain this, we should recall a theory about motivation. Once upon a time (in 1943), Abraham Maslow gave his "hierarchy of needs" theory to the world. It is very simple, and it still works. Long story short, it is about five levels of needs - Physiological, Safety, Social belonging, Self-esteem, and Self-actualization needs. And feedback may be an instrument for meeting at least three of them in your working environment. Let's clarify how.

Everything is pretty clear with physiological needs - they are satisfied with the help of a comfortable working place (and sometimes - sleeping too), food and water.

Safety needs are about Personal, Financial, Health, and Emotional security. They are usually met with the help of salaries, health benefits, legal documents, rules, and restrictions.

However, there is also a point about Emotional security, and it is not as clear as others. Practice shows that it is easier to prevent any problems here rather than deal with them after occurring. And here we come to the feedback for the first time. Constant and timely feedback can help to prevent misunderstandings, and decrease the number of conflicts, dismissals, and firings. Without feedback, the work culture may become toxic - full of rumors, tension, and abusive jokes

Social belonging is one of the crucial reasons why people prefer to work with other people and not live on the desert island. Here we come to the feedback for the second time. It can unite people, because cooperation requires communication, sharing both what you like and dislike, explaining possible solutions, and implementing them. Of course, a lot depends on the quality of the feedback sharing process. And it is not the only process that helps to meet this need. Most likely, you should think about team meetings for planning, corporate parties, team buildings, sport, and other activities.

Self-esteem need is about recognition, status, importance, and respect from others. Here we come to the feedback for the third time. Recognition and status require constant improvement and appreciation from others; moreover, other people may help to identify these areas for improvement. That is how feedback may help to build a culture where people say "thank you" and "I'd recommend you...".

Self-actualization is a more individual need, not so related to society and feedback; however, people can achieve it only after the previous levels of needs were satisfied.

Advantages

To sum-up our article, here are the main advantages that feedback gives to the giver and the receiver.

With the help of feedback, the giver may:

  1. express appreciation about someone's performance and behavior, say "Thank you";
  2. express negative thoughts and emotions about someone's performance or behavior (and substitute rumors, tension, and abusive jokes);
  3. learn how to express his/her thoughts and feelings in an understandable way (and improve emotional intelligence a bit).

With the help of feedback, the receiver may:

  1. feel respect from colleagues, understand that his/her efforts are noticed and valued;
  2. find out which hard or soft skills require improvement;
  3. understand other people better, their thoughts and feelings (this is another side of emotional intelligence).

Summary

Hopefully, this article has encouraged you to value feedback more. Please remember that feedback always exists: even if you do not share it verbally, you continue estimating others' performance and feel emotions, and they influence your behavior anyway. Setting up the process may prevent many inconveniences and turn destructive feedback into a constructive type. You may check out the article "The art of giving feedback" for some practical examples.

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