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5 lessons from kids on giving Feedback

May 15, 2011

When do you let someone know that you appreciate them ? How often ? Where ? How should this feedback be delivered ? Who should do it ?

Some simple yet very relevant questions when discussed in context of a corporate environment. But why only a corporate set up, these questions are relevant for everyday of our life. Family, Friends, Relatives, Business Partners, Vendors, Clients, Candidates ( even Strangers) – We all need & thrive on feedback . Ajit Kamath talks about appreciation as a soft skill in this interesting blog

Everytime we interact with someone or choose not to interact, we are giving feedback. It could be subtle or evident, but the message is passed on.  Every meeting, every discussion, every gesture, every phone call, every message conveys a feedback. In the real life, it is a 360 degrees non-stop process.

The most natural feedback givers are children. They are honest, uninhibited in their opinion and they move on once they have expressed themselves. They don’t wait for the right occasion, they don’t formalize their statements and they express with a strange indifference.

Here is what i have learnt from my son about feedback

  1. Give feedback on a ongoing basis. Don’t hold back when you want to appreciate. Do it immediately. There is no better time than this moment.
  2. Be balanced & honest in your appreciation. Appreciate the specific action without going overboard. Even a simple “Thank You” or “Well Done” may do the trick at times.
  3. Don’t wait for someone to do a miracle . Appreciate small acts and gestures & use the appreciation to raise the expectation bar. Celebrate small successes. a small achievement may be important to someone. Let them feel that it is important to you too.
  4. If someone is falling short of expectations, discuss how you can help to bring them up to the level. Make it clear to them that they need to pull up, without pointing fingers. a constructive suggestion on a regular basis works much better than a time bound appraisal.
  5. Don’t Criticize a mistake. It has already happened. learn from it, together, so that they are not repeated. Everyone feels bad if things go wrong. By criticizing/shouting, we only aggravate the pain & increase their misery. A continuous feedback process and help avoid blunders.
What is your experience regarding giving feedback ?
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