I love public speaking. Odd, since the average person ranks speaking to a group right above the fear of death. Speaking in public is one thing, but feedback about the effectiveness of your speech takes that fear to a whole new level!
As a public speaker, I have attended numerous classes and read books on how to improve my speaking. I joined Toastmasters for the direct feedback on my speaking effectiveness.
The surprising gift of my public speaking journey has been twofold: how to receive feedback and how to give feedback.
In August I posted a blog on how to receive feedback as a gift even though it can be just as fearful as speaking in public.
Here are a few tips on how to provide feedback that offers experience, strength, and hope versus critical, self-serving, “all-about-me” advice.
- Ask Permission!“Is this a good time to have a conversation?” not “Can I provide you some feedback?” When I hear the second request, I brace myself while my inside voice screams, “NO! I don’t want to be verbally thrown-up on.” Be willing to accept their answer if now isn’t a good time to talk.
- Embrace an Attitude of Gratitude –If you walk into a meeting with another person and feel that the other person is really a jerk, guess what? That conversation is NOT going to go well. If instead, you spend a few minutes ahead of time thinking about what you genuinely appreciate about the person, the feedback conversation has a much better chance of being productive. Another technique is to pretend that every thought you are having during the conversation is hovering above in a thought bubble so that person and anyone else around you can read your thoughts. This not only curbs negative thinking, but also increases chances of setting up an open-mind to the feedback being shared.
- Listen –That’s right. You are providing feedback, but without the space to hear what the other person is feeling and thinking, the feedback is tossed away without much chance of making a positive change. Stephen Covey reminds us that, ”Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”
- Empathize –Learn to read the person’s emotions and mirror the emotion as you empathize with their situation. Use the Lumina Spark free Splash App to aid you in that connection. The app has a “share and compare” feature and gives specific tips customized to your personal communication style that will, when used, build rapport with the individual personal communication needs of the other person. The more the person receiving the feedback feels you are like him or her and is understanding of the situation, the more his or her brain will relax and be able to comprehend what you are sharing with him or her.
- Speak Briefly and Slowly –Conversations in stressful situations, such as receiving feedback, are not the time for sermons or monologues! Offer no more than one to two sentences at a time. Pause. Allow the other person to speak. A general rule of thumb is to speak about 50% slower than you usually do. Our brains only take in about 20 seconds in a 60-second “speech”. You have no control over which part is heard, so give your thoughts a fighting chance by speaking in bite-sized chunks.
- Use “I” statements versus “you” statements. This is probably one of the most important tips in providing feedback. Let the person know how you were impacted by what happened along with the organization or client impact. Share your emotions.
- Share your experience, strength, and hope. End the conversation with a positive solution. Too many times there is a tendency to complain and outline what went wrong without a giving a positive example or solution to the issue. Leaving the conversation with the confidence to move forward better than when the conversation began is the hallmark of feedback that truly is a gift.
Practice your brilliance as a leader with thoughtful and impactful feedback. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the brilliant results!