Back in my days as an advertising copywriter I would to tell a joke that went like this: How many copywriters does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: None. I’m not changing anything. The joke usually came on the heels of someone saying how he or she liked an ad I wrote “…but could you change a few things.”
I often hear comments about how so-and-so is not very good at receiving feedback. No kidding. Nobody loves feedback. We might say we do. We might recognize the benefit of receiving feedback and even see it as critical to our professional and personal growth. But nobody likes getting it. Getting feedback means we didn’t do something right or we could have done it better or we’re not exactly perfect. No matter how enlightened we are we don’t like to hear that.
So what’s the best business coaching tip about the way to give feedback? We know the rules about giving feedback near the event, in private, and using specific examples that have been observed first hand. But those are tactics, and tactics aren’t enough. What makes feedback effective is everything that goes on before the feedback. We should be preparing for feedback scenarios the very minute we meet someone, well before any feedback conversations take place. What this means is showing someone you care. Listening. Being supportive. Demonstrating you want the best for them. Being available. Open. Empathetic. Inclusive. Asking for and respecting their opinion. If we do all of that from Day1…if we behave in ways that show someone else we have their back and want for them what they want…then when a moment for feedback presents itself we will have set the table.
It is about having a foundation of trust. Maybe even love. I know, not the word us hardened, competitive businesspeople want to hear. Feedback that comes from those places is not only helpful, it is nourishing. Let’s all start today. Even if it’s months before we say anything.