"Making his presentation to a large group without practising beforehand is really not smart" I said to a colleague before carrying on quickly with my own work. A week later the person I had criticised came into my office and gave me a piece of his mind.

Giving criticism is easy and quickly done but the damage it can cause is not easily repaired. One actual example is the criticism about a Dutch Olympian being sent home. This is also to be seen in different brands advertising. If we do not know the background to a situation we make a black and white judgement. But what is much more important: criticising achieves nothing. Giving positive feedback is the key; not via a third person but face-to-face. Let's quickly say no more about this Olympian's case.....

Giving feedback stays difficult and, if I'm honest, I still remember very well the time when a manager gave me feedback that brought tears to my eyes. It really hurt my feelings. But it would have hurt even more if I had heard it via a third party. Incidentally, his feedback was justified, but being inexperienced, I was convinced I had done everything well. Oh, oh, how naive...

Back to the colleague who angrily entered my office. His anger was primarily caused by the fact that he had heard via a third party that I thought his presentation was fairly dramatic. If you criticise someone, by the time the affected person hears it, the criticism has often become inflated.

The manner in which you give feedback is important, but just as important is that you are yourself open to receive feedback. There are countless theories about this and I have taken many courses on the subject myself. The most important thing I have learnt is to ask yourself if your feedback can help the other develop as a person and that you always communicate according to your own feelings. If you apply the ARA (Attention, Recognition, Appreciation) principle, you notice that giving feedback mostly becomes a pleasant experience. Ask yourself when was the last time that you got feedback and if that was long ago, what that says about your attitude. Finally, "Nobody's perfect"

Moniek van Rheenen-Schreurs

Comment