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What is feedback and how do I use it properly?

Feedback is often misunderstood as being a one-way communication between the teacher and the learner when in fact it is the overall interaction between them. It is essential for maximizing one's potential, raising awareness and improving one's strengths. It is also one of the most powerful tools that a leader has at his disposal provided that he or she knows how to use it properly.

In a practical situation, feedback is given to a learner so that he or she can work on the areas that need improving. Without feedback the learner may even assume that there is nothing to improve and therefore no progress is being made. The lack of feedback has usually two main consequences:

  1. the learner is making a false assessment of his or her abilities;
  2. the learner loses trust in the teacher.

Feedback is given in order to reinforce a behavior or change it if it is unacceptable. However, feedback does not always lead to something constructive. If handled poorly, "constructive criticism" can turn into an argument and then everybody loses. In order for the feedback to be used constructively, there are certain steps that need to be followed.

If you want your feedback to have a positive and practical effect; then there are some things that you need to consider before you actually give the feedback. For example, the person receiving negative feedback should not feel attacked in any way and their self-worth should remain unaffected after they have received the feedback.

Feedback should also be given as soon as possible, especially if it is positive feedback. Congratulating someone on a job well done after a month won't do as much good as if you were to congratulate them immediately after doing the job.

When giving out negative feedback, it is most important that it be done it in private. If you do it in front on others, not only will this de-motivate the person receiving the feedback but it will also de-motivate those who are watching. In addition, negative feedback should be given from a personal perspective. Let them know that you are the one who disapproves of their behavior and be very specific on what it is that you think they did wrong. This way they will not get the impression that you have something bad to say about their personality; but that they need to correct something that they did. You should also offer them a chance give you their input on your feedback and let them explain their actions.

Share your thoughts

Sharing your thoughts on communication will benefit every leader that are constantly seeking to improve their communication skills. Leaders communicate constantly, thus increasing our communication skills will consequently increase our leadership skills.

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