Top Ten Interpersonal Skills -7- Get and Give Feedback
I’m blogging about the Top Ten Interpersonal Communication Skills for building positive relationships at work and at home. Today’s post is lesson 7 , the challenge and opportunity of feedback. Why? Because relationships are less about reality and more about perception.
Have you ever had somebody tell you, “You’re not listening to me!” and you heard them say it? Obviously, you were listening! Yet somehow, they failed to perceive it.
If you don’t know how people see you, hear you and think about what you say, or what they need to see, hear and experience in order to consider what you say, what you don’t know can hurt you. The lesson?
Get And Give Feedback
For example, when you give people feedback, do they perceive it as feedback or as criticism? Do they think you mean to help them or harm them? Do they think you care, or that you are careless? Everything you say and do will be filtered by their perception of you.
Perception results from a mental process called generalization, where little things add up–both the good and the bad. For example, people only need 2 or 3 examples of something to form a generalization. Stop at 2 or 3 red lights, how many lights are red? All the lights! Meet 2 or 3 people in a bad mood, and what do you think? Everyone’s in a bad mood.
Why leave this to chance? Instead, add perception to what you do. First, set the table and create context by stating your positive intention for wanting feedback. “I want to be the best manager you’ve ever had.” “I want our service to exceed your expectations.” “I want to be considered for a promotion.” Then explain, in a sentence or two, why getting feedback is important to you. “I can’t do that without your help.” With permission, find out what you’re doing that you could do better, what you’re not doing that you should be doing, and what you’re doing that you should stop doing. Most importantly, ask for the evidence that would tell them that you were or weren’t doing what they tell you.
For example, someone says, “You’re not listening to me.” And you say, “I apologize. I want to listen to you. How would you know if I was listening to you?” But be warned. When you ask for feedback, you just may get it. And even though some part of you may want to defend yourself, explain yourself, or justify your behavior, that will be far less valuable than listening to the feedback and getting the specifics of it.
You can use the same basic approach in giving feedback, too. Give people a good reason to hear you. “I want you to succeed at your job.” “I want to have a strong working relationship with you.” “I want to be able to count on you in trying times.” Then ask for permission. “May I offer you a few suggestions?”
Adding perception to a relationship creates positive moments of truth in which small things lead to powerful generalizations. Perception is everything.
Do you have any feedback for me about this post, or about my blog in general? You can add perception to what I do with your questions and comments. They are, as I say, always welcome.