Getting constructive feedback from reputable sources is an important part of our personal development, and key to reaching our potential. This often turns out to be more difficult than it would seem. Too often the process results in feedback that doesn’t actually make things better. Sometimes when we don’t do it well, it only strains the relationship and makes things worse. This causes us to not give feedback at all, which leads to frustration, apathy, and significant strain on a relationship. So how can we do this critical task effectively?
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“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?” – Job 6:24,25
A great place to look at the process of giving and receiving feedback is in the book of Job. Job was going through some very difficult times. During this time, Job asked his friends for some feedback. He asked them to inspect his character and his actions to see if there was anything that he could do differently. This is just the beginning of those interactions, but I thought that it was important to recognize that Job started off with asking for feedback.
It’s also worth noting that Job recognized that feedback can be painful. Giving and receiving feedback can be difficult to do. The words can hurt. No one really likes to be criticized, or inspected. We often take it personally. But it is super important that we learn how to provide meaningful feedback to each other so that we can continue to improve and grow and mature into the person that God created us to be.
So how do we ensure that we give and receive feedback? While this is certainly not even close to an exhaustive list, here are some quick tips on how we can give and receive feedback effectively:
- Be open to receiving feedback – recognize that every piece of feedback is valuable. It is a reflection of what the other person is feeling. Right or wrong, it has to be dealt with. This may or may not lead to a behavioral change on your end. Don’t be hyper-sensitive to feedback. Recognize that if someone is giving you honest feedback, it is because they care enough about you to risk conflict. Don’t bite their head off. Instead, embrace them and be grateful that they are someone who actually cares and doesn’t just give you lip service.
- Be Courageous – We must take steps to recognize when things aren’t working well and give honest feedback. We can’t complain that things are not improving if we are doing our part to provide necessary feedback. Both parties own courage as part of the feedback loop, in drawing it out of each other, and making a safe place to share it.
- Deeply Assess – Is the feedback given just a symptom of the real opportunity or gap? Is the feedback a projection of the other person’s insecurity or flaw. Is there something that we can glean from the feedback that will help one or the other party improve? Seek the perspective of those who know you the most to help evaluate the feedback. it is important that during this process we have the right perspective to move forward in a constructive manner.
- Be Patient – Realize that working to improve the situation is going to take time. Be careful not to overreact and take immediate and drastic action. Let the information settle.
- Align on Perspective and Action – We must do something with the feedback. We need to have follow-up conversations to align on the information and each other’s perspectives. Minimally we need to reach a common understanding of each other’s perspectives, and make sure that we can restate the feedback to each other. Once we reach clarity, we have to work together to agree upon what should be done from each other’s perspective that will help the situation. Clearly articulate and restate expected action.
- Follow-Up – We have to hold ourselves and each other accountable to do what we agreed to. Hopefully the steps that we agreed to take will actually improve the situation. But if not, we can start the process again and agree upon what to do next. Lather, rinse, repeat.
This list is just the starting point, but something that I’m sure we’ll revisit in upcoming posts as we continue through the book of Job.
Please leave some comments if you found this helpful, or if you have some additional thoughts or tips that can help others!
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your Word today. Thank you for providing us the wisdom and insight that we need each and every day. Thank you for the revelation that only comes through you. Cleanse us of everything that is not pure and holy, and fill us with all of your goodness. Let your Holy Spirit overflow in us. Guide our every thought, our every word, our every action. We know that you are always with us Lord. help us to stay close to you all the day through. We give you all the honor and glory, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Photo By giulia.forsythe
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