Sudarsan Ravi

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You Suck! Now go stand there facing the wall.

You Suck! Now go stand there facing the wall.

Have you received feedback recently that made you remember school days?

Have you been treated to a firing?

Have you given feedback in a manner that resulted in zero improvements?


Receiving negative feedback is hard. Sharing negative feedback is harder. In this post, I will attempt to deconstruct feedbacks. I will steer clear of positive feedbacks since everybody loves giving and receiving them. Let us focus on negative feedbacks since it is crucial to development and harder to do.


Feedback Elements


Every feedback is like a tripod with three basic legs (credit Landmark education for teaching me concepts on linguistics that I apply here) – Language, Emotion and Intent. The language is the actual words that are spoken. Emotion is the tone in which we speak those words. Intent is the motive behind the communication. To deliver feedbacks effectively, it is important to think about all three elements.


Usually we share feedback because we wish to improve somebody. That is the core intent. It is very rare that the intent is negative. Most people who share feedback do quite well on picking the right words to describe what you need to improve on.


The place where we err is the emotion. The emotion we share the feedback with is the emotion that we leave the person with. If you yell at somebody, your agitation transfers to them. How well do you think an agitated mind will process and act on your information?

To have balance, it is important to adjust the three elements so you end up with positive results. The intent should always be correct and communicated upfront. Additionally if given a choice, I would pick keeping the emotion mild and the language strong than vice versa.


Feedback Delivery and Timing:


Feedback is ideally best held one on one and as soon as the trigger for feedback occurs. There are many channels to share performance feedback – Offline (In person, Email, Phone) and Online (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). While in person/phone conversations are the best, Email works well if you do not usually have a handle on your emotions. It keeps the communication to just the intent and language but it is more important to explain the intent explicitly. Online communication even if private works well for brands but not necessarily for people. People go on social media to have fun not to get lectured so it is best to avoid giving feedback there.


How do you normally deliver feedback? Have you had trouble deconstructing feedback when somebody yelled at you? What are some additional tips that you can share?

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