If everyone had perfect telepathy we would read each other’s minds. We would instantly know what the other is thinking, feeling and their expectations. Knowing their expectations, we could act accordingly to not offend or deliberately cause chaos. We would know when and in exactly the right way how to provide moral support. Gifts and desires automatically known, having satisfying holidays would be a breeze. Sounds like the life, right?
The reality is we must put in effort to understand others. To know what someone wants, it may not be enough to guess. Body language, voice inflection and diction are all means we use to signal our intentions and feelings. In team projects, this communication is essential. But even these elements do not provide us with enough rich information to know whether our points are understood or others understand ours. This gap in understanding is where feedback comes in.
Project teams can benefit from feedback when:
- Members avoid resistance: If the feedback is a river then resistance is the huge stone blocking the water’s flow.
- You recognize the difference between criticism and feedback: Criticism is information shared often highlighting the negative point of view and it lacks providing a solution. It may touch on a realistic problem but does not show how it could be resolved. Social media flamers and trolls fit this category. Feedback is constructive when solutions are provided and information is shared without a personal attack. Sometimes constructive feedback can be misinterpreted as criticism and this elevates resistance.
- You ask for permission to give feedback: Asking “Are you open to receive feedback?” or “Would you like to have some feedback?” creates an open channel for the giver and receiver. The receiver can then prepare to take the information in.
- Seen as a tool for improvement: Constructive feedback is designed to work towards self and team improvement. It focuses on areas of opportunity and how to maximize them. It touches upon strengths and how to increase them. Constructive feedback should leave the receiver feeling like they can do more not less.
Feedback is an inevitable piece of our societal fabric and an asset when working in teams.