Feb 27

Elevate Your Skills Giving and Receiving Positive Feedback


Effectively giving and receiving positive feedback is a learned leadership skill. When effectively given and received, the impact is empowering to both the giver and receiver. In this article, I will share ideas you can utilize to significantly elevate your skills in giving and receiving positive feedback. You can elevate these skills to an uncommonly high level to create a win for you, your organization, and people around you.

How effective are you in giving and receiving positive feedback? How do you measure your effectiveness? How do people typically respond to receiving positive feedback from you? How do you respond to receiving positive feedback from people around you? How can you further elevate your effectiveness? What difference could elevating these skills make for your company, people around you, and you?

As a leader within your organization, you are always influencing how people around you perceive your corporate world. When you effectively give someone positive feedback, you are influencing how they see themselves, you, their relationship to you, and your organization. Positive feedback when effectively given and received is empowering to both parties. By empower I mean to manifest power within someone; to expand their experience of their capabilities and choices; or to unleash hidden potential; and to spark someone to take action to unleash these possibilities. Short term indicators that someone is empowered by positive feedback typically includes shining faces and positive energy and can sometimes evoke tears. Everyone wins when leaders within their organization can readily at any given moment put on the hat of a coach or a player to effectively give or receive positive feedback with anyone within the organization.

Effective leadership is not simply seeing people for who they already are; for what they have accomplished, and where they have fallen short. Effective leadership is empowering; bringing forth bold, noble, and compelling possibilities for who each person can become. Positive and constructive feedback are tools leaders can use to empower people. The sincerity and authenticity that a leader brings to feedback interactions is essential. Employees can readily tell when a leader speaks with sincerity, truly cares about them, and sees untapped potential. A leader’s perception of people around them can have an empowering effect.

To be effective in giving and receiving feedback, a leader will want to tap into their capacity to perceive any employee in an empowering way. A leader’s initial perception is not necessarily an empowering one. To quote British parliamentarian Aneurin Bevin “It is inherent in our intellectual activity that we seek to imprison reality in our description of it. Soon, long before we realize it, it is we who become the prisoners of the description.” For a leader to approach that employee to give feedback in an effective way, calls for that leader to first see the employee and situation in an empowering way themselves. When you own perceiving as a creative act, then you can tap into your capacity at any moment to see any employee or situation in an empowering way. Owning perceiving as a creative act involves disciplined practice. Leaders can then help team members to see themselves and their work environment in an empowering way.
Here are three assumptions you can utilize to help you effectively give and receive positive feedback. Assumptions are most powerful when they are not spoken. Rather interact with the person you are giving positive feedback to or receiving it from as if these three assumptions are true:
* Feedback is an awesome gift, a contribution from one member to another.
* Each person is interested in and capable of effectively giving and receiving positive feedback.
* Positive feedback, when effectively given and received, is empowering to both parties.

One effective way leaders can elevate their skills to give and receive feedback is to utilize step by step processes. I will share a step by step process for both giving and receiving positive feedback. I call these step by step processes recipes to acknowledge that there are multiple ways in which a leader can effectively give or receive positive feedback. I invite you to utilize these recipes for as long as they are helpful to you in empowering people and elevating these skills. Then like any master chef with a cookbook recipe, a leader can readily alter these recipes while ensuring that the feedback is still given or received in a comparable empowering way.

There are seven steps to our recipe for giving positive feedback:
1) Be proactive in giving positive feedback knowing it can an empowering experience for all parties involved.
2) Frame your feedback before giving it with an interest creating remark to make sure that you have their attention. Example: “I want to give you some positive feedback”.
3) Communicate the positive feedback with honesty and sincerity.
4) Make eye contact as you give the feedback (when culturally appropriate).
5) Be attentive as to whether your feedback was heard, understood, and accepted by paying
attention to eye contact, facial expressions, voice tone, body language, and any verbal response.
6) Watch for preliminary indicators that you have empowered them.
7) If in doubt as to whether your feedback was accepted, ask the person
receiving the feedback to help you understand their response to your feedback.

There are five steps to receiving positive feedback:
1) Make eye contact (when culturally appropriate).
2) Listen carefully to fully understand the feedback.
3) Ask questions only if needed to make certain that you fully understand.
4) Accept positive feedback graciously by allowing yourself to shine.
5) Sincerely thank the person for giving you the feedback.

Leaders can make a profound positive impact upon how people around you perceive themselves. Positive feedback can be a tool for leaders to empower people, influencing how they perceive themselves and their capabilities. Hidden potential can be unleashed. Positive feedback can evoke people to take action: be creative, step out of their comfort zone, and learn new skills. Positive feedback can provide a means to help someone be open to receiving constructive feedback and resolving a performance issue.

I want to share a quick story with you to illustrate the difference positive feedback can make. I led a training session to elevate leaders’ effectiveness in giving and receiving feedback for a corporate leadership team. As a warm up to the session, I asked the CEO to sit in a chair in the front of the room to receive positive feedback from each and every member of his leadership team. He squirmed with discomfort at the start. Then, as each member of his leadership team gave him sincere, positive feedback, he began to shine. At the end of this session, the CEO approached me to thank me for this exercise. He shared that before this session, he had been questioning his effectiveness as a leader. Then after listening to all 15 members of his leadership team give him sincere, positive feedback, he was back in touch with his effectiveness as a leader.

In conclusion, giving and receiving feedback is also a learned leadership skill. It is most effective in a corporate culture where constructive feedback is also effectively communicated whenever an opportunity presents itself. When both are generously and effectively given and received, then passion and performance are unleashed as everyone knows you really want the best out of your people, and they really want the best out of you and one another.