An honest view around feedbacks.
Every time I hear someone talking about the feedback culture my brain automatically turns on this bright red strobe light.
It is not that I do not believe in feedback, I really do. But, as feedback have the potential to be a constructive force, it can also be something very destructive.
It all depends on the people giving it and the people receiving it.
I worked for many years in an environment where feedback was supported and stimulated. During all those years I received and gave feedback many times, and what I learned is that it is not as easy as it seems.
I will try to share here my beliefs about giving and receiving feedback in a hope that this could be useful to someone.
When receiving feedback, know that it is a one-way street. It is not the time to argue or defend. Hear it, say thanks, think about it, and make a decision if that makes sense for you or not. Trying to be defensive will only shut the door for any future feedback attempts from the person giving it to you.
When giving feedback, do it in a non-emotional way. Do it in a moment that whatever you are bringing to the person, is not affecting you, otherwise there will always be a chance of you getting emotional, and ruin the objective of the feedback. Remember feedback is about helping the person to see something that he is missing. It is not about venting over what is bothering you. This is a very common mistake and I have made a few times myself.
It is ok, after you gave some thought on the feedback you received, to go to the person who gave you the feedback and ask what you could do it better in his/her opinion. Don't ask it when you are receiving it. Take some time to think about it first. If you are having a hard time understanding what you could do better, go on and ask the person who gave the feedback to you.
There is a difference between feedback and complain. Feedbacks are build to somehow help you to improve something. If no improvement can result from that conversation, maybe it was not a feedback after all. Listen to what the person has to say, then reflect about it. Still not clear ? Ask the person what he/she think you could have done better. No answer that makes sense ? Maybe it is better to just ignore it.
In my experience, people who give you real feedback normally care about you. Here is the thing, feedback demands effort from both sides. It will take you effort to think how you will give the feedback. Take an effort to the person who is receiving, who will have to spent time thinking about it. Many times, feedbacks triggers more further conversations. It is not a simple process at all. Because of that, when someone gives you feedback, somehow they do it because they care about you. They are putting effort into your development. They want you to improve. It is so much easier to just not deal with it. Or move the problem to someone else, like your boss, manager, or whoever they judge responsible to deal with the problem. Keeping that in mind also makes the entire process less painful.
There are people who are better in giving feedback than others. I remember working with this old lady for a few years, and I will always remember her for the brutal feedbacks she gave me. I remember that there was always tears when she decided to give me feedback. It was painful, blunt, difficult but extremely valuable to me. She was responsible for many improvements I forced myself into, and as painful the experience was, I am still grateful for it (if you are reading this, I want you to know that). In the other hand, I received feedback from people that was smooth. Very careful. And also had very positive effects in my life. I see value in both. I think what I am trying to say is that some people will be more gentle, while other people not so much. If possible,try endure the journey and focus on the destination. The final message is what you need to think about. Try to ignore the way it was delivered.
Never give constructive feedback in public. Get the person into a private space and give the feedback to the person and nobody else. Do not tell other people you gave feedback to someone else. It is a private act. Respect that.
Some people are just assholes. They will screw it on both directions. They will try to give you plain complain and call it feedback. And they will freak out and react in a very bad way when you try to give feedback. Honestly, I just do not give feedback to anyone I believe is not equipped to deal with it. Also, when I detect it is a plain complain, after I think about it (even assholes can give you a valuable feedback about something you are not seeing), if I decide there is nothing I can do about it, I just move it to the bullshit pile and ignore it.
Feedbacks are important and can help you to improve and allow you to be part of the evolution of people who work with you. But also can generate more problems it supposed to fix. Be mindful about the feedback you are giving, the way you are giving and specially about the person who will receive. Learn how to listen, think about it and make a decision about it when receiving.
Keep in mind that all this advices are my honest opinion around feedbacks. They are based on my experiences and conversation around the subject with random people. It is not an absolute truth, or a method. I strongly suggest filter it and use it carefully.