Giving Feedback to Your Colleagues

507919-19130-44If we search the internet for the word „feedback” we find that feedback is a process in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future. As part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop, the event is said to “feedback” into itself.

In a company, as well as in everyday life, we interact with each other and almost everything we do or say has an impact on the people around us and it may influence future communication and interaction. So, looking at the big picture, we can say that we are always providing feedback to one another each time we interact.

We are social beings, we depend on one another and we put a high value on the communication and the interaction between us. Also, we are taught since childhood to pay special attention to those who represent the authority in our lives: parents, grandparents, older brothers, teachers They are the ones who can influence our lives as children through punishments or rewards. Because of this, we are especially sensitive to the feedback we receive from our hierarchical superior at work. So leaders should be very careful with what they say to their employees as their words weigh more than those of other colleagues.

Below there are ten reflections on feedback and why some practices should be used while others should be avoided.

1. We all have our objectives

Each person has life goals that she tries to accomplish. Some may want to advance in their careers while others may want to get better at what they do;  some may want to gain more money while others may want recognition; others may just want to be good parents for their children. There can be as many goals as there are people. So when discussing with your colleagues and especially when there is some sort of conflict between you, trying to understand each other’s goals may help resolve the conflict easier.

2. Put yourself in the other person’s place

Empathy has always helped communication. We judge life situations and other people through our personal experience, and even though we cannot fully see the other person’s point of view, just trying to put ourselves in their shoes might go a long way.

3. Assume positive intent

Even though it is obvious that we all have positive intentions and that we do not wake up in the morning thinking we want to do something bad today, we tend to forget this when it comes to our colleagues. Sometimes we fight the other person as if she is mean by nature and she just wants to make our life miserable. We do not think that she is well-intentioned and the whole thing may be just a misunderstanding.

4. Get to know a person before you judge her

I see quite often at work, and it happened to me too, the following scenario:  I judge a person too quickly and I assign her certain defects, but when I get to know her better, I change my mind. So when you label a person too fast, bear in mind that you might be wrong and you should give that person the chance to prove you wrong.

5. We all want to improve ourselves

If you want to convince someone to do a better job, remember that it is in our nature to try to improve ourselves. We are always trying to get better at what we do, and especially at what we enjoy doing. Show a person a better version of himself and he will march toward it, alone, without you lifting a finger.

6. Giving positive versus giving negative feedback

People loathe having negative feelings toward something or someone. We all aim at a state of harmony, when positive thoughts flow inside ourselves as well as all around us.

Throwing negative feedback towards someone brings negative feelings within ourselves, while giving positive feedback makes us feel good.

Negative feelings waste our attention and energy, exhaust us, and make us concentrate on pointless arguments. On the contrary, positive feelings drive our enjoyable and productive activities. We are all more efficient when we feel good about ourselves and when we know we are appreciated.

7. Be scarce with pointing people’s mistakes

Most of the people I know can easily point their defects but they have a hard time finding their strong points. So when you want to point to a colleague what he did wrong, bear in mind that he might already know it. Instead, when you think one of your colleagues did something great, remember that he might not perceive it in the same manner. It may be worth mentioning to him that you appreciate his work.

8. We all cherish our freedom

When interacting with your colleagues, make sure you stay within your boundaries and you do not invade their ground. We like to be in charge of our own lives and we react negatively when we perceive even the smallest threat to our autonomy.

9. Think about your reputation

We all observe and label the people around us. It helps us to anticipate their reactions and it allows us to shape our behavior towards them. Simply put, we all have a reputation in the eyes of others. Our reputation is created in time by what we say and what we do and it cannot be changed easily. So each time we do or say something, we should reflect upon the image we create in the minds of our colleagues. Is this the reputation we want to have? Does this reputation helps us, or on the contrary, draws us back?

10. Avoid mocking others

Mocking other colleagues, as fun as it may seem sometimes, never brings good things. The mocked person feels excluded, and this greatly damages the cohesion of a group. Not to mention that she may build resentment and she might return the favor sometime.

This being said, I wish you only positive thoughts and an enjoyable time spent with your colleagues!

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