Giving good feedback: How do you do that?

Giving and receiving feedback: it’s impossible to ignore in our professional lives. But what is feedback? And how do you give good constructive feedback? And how do you use it to become better at your job?

Giving good feedback: How do you do that?

Many people can’t answer this. Feedback is often seen as a negative thing, and some people find it a nuisance. It can sometimes be taken too personally. But don’t we all sometimes need to hear what can be done better next time? Patrick Kostwinder, trainer at Brunel, says: "If you want to give someone beautiful flowers, you don't buy it last minute from the gas station." In this blog he explains everything related to giving and receiving feedback.

Feedback: a gift?

"Suppose it’s your birthday and you receive a present. Full of expectation, you tear off the wrapping paper and then you poke yourself... a cushion filled with needles. An item for sewing, something you have no interest in. You mumble a thank you and continue. If the goal was to give poor feedback, it worked. If you instead decide to mention you don’t like to sew and say that it must be a different gift in the future, that is not feedback, that is criticism. You’ve made your point without providing the gift-giver with a concrete tip about what can be improved. They feel overwhelmed, and in the end nothing changes. Giving feedback as a gift? That is only possible when care and attention has been paid to the feedback and the other person really benefits from it. "


Conversation techniques provide feedback

"In practice, too often I still see that feedback leads nowhere, like a dead-end street. How do you ensure it's a two-way street, that a feedback conversation is constructive? Giving feedback is nothing more than describing the behaviour of the other and its effect on you. If you manage to keep this to yourself, then chances are the other person is open to really listen to you. How you say that determines the impact. So not: "I really can't do anything with that nervous fiddling you’re doing with that pen," but: "I saw that you were tapping your pen and that distracted me. The next time you leave your pen, your story will give me the attention it deserves." The tip does not just fall out of the blue.

Feedback can be a gift if it has been given with care and attention and it really benefits the other.

Patrick Kostwinder - Trainer at Brunel

Is receiving feedback better with a compliment?

"Making sure someone is open to feedback is different from sugar-coating: 'You're really doing well, great! I have a list of points for improvement for you here.' Better not. This can debunk your carefully-prepared message by saying, 'Your presentation was actually excellent, really, great!' This ensures the recipient will no longer see the need to listen carefully to the tip. Also not handy: giving a compliment about a nice shirt and then naming a series of development points about behavior. I have nothing against a compliment for make someone feel good, as long as it is sincere, relevant and well-timed."


Feedback: give tips and do it in the situation itself

"Remember that a good feedback conversation is meant to give someone feedback on his or her behavior or attitude, where you give concrete advice on how to do things better. You name the positive effects that this change offers. For best results, give feedback immediately and otherwise as soon as possible after observing the behavior. Returning to it six months later is a waste of time for you, and especially for the other person. You may have been brooding on it for a long time, but that other person may no longer have a clue what you're talking about. That makes the conversation a missed opportunity. Not necessary!"


And how do you do it yourself?

"Giving and receiving feedback goes together, of course. Can do everything right if you never receive feedback? That depends. If you want to continue developing, I advise you to actively request feedback yourself. Request feedback from an expert in your field, because you often learn the most from someone with a lot of experience or knowledge. Take this anecdote about Freddie Mercury as an example. He wrote the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody, but his record boss didn't want it to be released on a single: 'It goes on forever, six bloody minutes!' But bolstered by the feedback from other music professionals, he replied: 'I pity your wife if you think six minutes is forever.' That single was released, and the rest is history."

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