Feedback always matters. We might not always want to hear it or like how it is shared, but it is important to know what others think about what you are putting out into the world. To make receiving feedback a more enjoyable process, you need to be clear with yourself about what the best type of feedback is for you. And once you've figured that out, you need to know how to express your feedback preferences to others.
Let's start with the first part of this equation: how to determine your feedback preferences. Ask yourself these questions:
1. How do you like to receive feedback?
I am a millennial who loves to have conversations via email or social media. Other people may prefer in-person conversations. Maybe you like a little of both. The point is to know what you want so you can articulate this to others who can give you feedback as you prefer.
2. Do you have pet peeve words or phrases that throw off your conversation?
Are there words that drive you crazy every time you hear them? Maybe you don't want to hear that you're doing a "great job," or that you need to improve on your "skills." Determining what you've already heard — or filler words and phrases you want to avoid hearing — will help you develop a more succinct feedback process.
3. Do you like to begin conversations with small talk?
I am a straight shooter. Discussing the weather for five minutes is not something that I find truly riveting. Let’s get down to what needs to be discussed. I believe other straight shooters would agree with me. Maybe small talk doesn’t bother you. You might even enjoy those random conversations with your superior or colleague. Think about where you stand on the topic. This enables you to communicate your conversation preferences.
4. Do you prefer to hear something positive before negative?
As a devoted believer of the laws of attraction, I am a firm believer that all communication should begin with discussing positivity over negativity. Not only does it emotionally ease the blow of negative feedback, but it will also make you less defensive and offended by the feedback that may be less than favorable.
5. Do you like to be compared to others?
When you are discussing your work or merits, do you enjoy hearing about others work or merit? Sometimes in life, it is okay to focus on you and what is relevant to you. When assessing what you are doing, it doesn’t always help to compare you or your performance to others. Comparing you to the goals you have set, or the goals imposed on you by management might be enough. Wouldn’t you agree?
After you've asked yourself these questions, make sure you've taken the steps on this list to really nail down your feedback preferences:
- Understand what you find offensive
- Determine the language you don’t want to hear
- Identify your medium of choice (i.e. email, phone, in-person, private, public, etc.)
- Identify past mistakes committed by others to avoid
Now that you have identified what your feedback preferences are, follow these tips on communicating your needs to others:
1. Be confident
Confidence is always key when expressing yourself. If you refuse to take yourself seriously, you can’t expect others to do the same. When sharing your preferences, make sure you:
- Make good eye contact
- Pay attention to your posture
- Know what you want to say
- Have a game plan for what is negotiable and non-negotiable
2. Get clear
Clarity is beyond significant in any communication. How can you ever get what you want if you are unable to clearly communicate your needs? One of the best ways to clearly communicate is to write out what you want to say. After you write it down, you can read it, edit, and make the necessary changes to come up with something that is clear, concise and effective.
3. Always remain professional
You can’t control what others think, say, or do. You can control how you act, what you say, and how you respond to others. Whether the person giving you feedback is polite, decent, or outrageous, it is up to you to remain calm and professional the entire time. This might be difficult at times, but the alternative will likely not yield the desired outcome.
4. Communicate your needs in the medium that best fits your audience
If you want to speak with someone in a medium that they dislike, you will likely be ignored or your wants will not be taken seriously. For instance, if you are emailing your boss and he or she prefers in-person or telephone conversations, then you need to speak with them in-person or over the phone. Understanding the medium of choice of who you are speaking with is the best way for you to get your message across and your needs met.
More on professional feedback:
Natasha Nurse started Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog. She is the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine, a Program Coordinator for Long Island Girl Talk, and she co-hosts a podcast with her husband called WokeNFree. Follow Natasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.