Give and Recieve FeedbackKim Scott
Candid feedback is valuable at every stage of life: as a student, a friend, an employee, a community organizer, and a leader. But, early in life, most of us are taught to suppress criticism. We are told to “be professional,” which causes us to be emotionally distant and uncaring. We are also told not to say anything if we don’t have something nice to say, which causes most of us to stay silent when we notice others’ flaws.
Giving and receiving honest and critical feedback is hard, so people are rightly nervous to do it. But we shouldn’t lose hope, because there are proven strategies for giving feedback that is candid but not offensive. These strategies are what Kim Scott calls Radical Candor.
This approach to feedback has two components. First you must care personally. If somebody knows you care about them, they are more likely to accept your feedback. The second component is to challenge directly. When giving feedback, don’t focus on aspects of a person’s character they can’t change. (“You’re too loud” or “I don’t like your sense of humor.”) Look at concrete actions they take (“I think you could do a better job of listening to others” or “Maybe consider the jokes you make before you say them.”) If you’ve demonstrated enough caring in step one, you won’t have to sugarcoat in step two. Get to the point, in a loving way.
One of the best ways to practice giving feedback is first to solicit it. This can be scary! We all want to do our best, and sometimes criticism can seem like it will just hurt us when we most need a boost. To make this easier, Kim Scott has four tips that she uses to solicit feedback effectively:
1 . Have a go to question - In Kim’s case she asks, “What should I do, or stop doing, that would make it easier to work with me?” But, your question should feel authentic to you, so feel free to come up with your own! Also, try and ask a question that will make the other person feel comfortable
2. Embrace the discomfort - When you ask for feedback, it can get uncomfortable. This is not a cue to break the silence by talking. If there is an awkward silence when you ask for feedback, wait six seconds and embrace the silence before you say anything. This gives the other person a chance to think and speak.
3. Listen to understand, not respond - It’s natural to get defensive when you are criticized. To resist this, try repeating what the other person said and asking follow up questions to focus on understanding, not responding.
4. Reward the Candor - Make sure if you agree with the feedback, that you fix the problem. You can even tell the person how you fixed the problem to make sure you addressed it correctly.
Now that you have the tools of Radical Candor, we hope you will go out and solicit constructive feedback of your own.
Think about something in your life that you really want feedback on. Maybe it’s your performance as a student. Maybe it’s your public speaking or writing skills. Maybe it’s how you treat others and behave. Find a person in your life who sincerely wants the best for you. Explain to them the principles of Radical Candor.
- Explain that you know how they have demonstrated care for you.
- Explain that you know that any feedback they give will be honest and direct, for your own self-improvement.
- Emphasize that really good feedback is narrow and feasible. You probably can’t change your character. If you’re really shy, there’s no reason they’ll change that or even should. But you can change discrete, concrete problems and approaches.
- Give them 10 or so minutes to talk to you honestly about what you want feedback on. Don’t interrupt, don’t argue, just listen.
After you have spoken with your friend, mentor, or loved one, reflect on their feedback. What did you learn? Was their advice specific and helpful? Or was it too broad or character-based? Think about what they said and how it can help you improve, either your personal conduct or your project.
If physical distance keeps you from making a visit, you may choose to arrange a phone or video chat.
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