In business we are need feedback from our clients and colleagues in order to make improvements to our service. Here are a few ways to ask for it gracefully:
- On a scale of 1-10 what has been the quality of our (friendship, service, relationship) over the past (week, month, year)?
- What would it take to make it a 10?
- Is our relationship what you expected? What has been your experience using this (product, service)?
- How have I (we) met your …… needs?
- What would have to happen for you to …….?
On asking for feedback (based on “Success Principles” by Canfield & Switzer)
On Giving Feedback (both positive & negative)
As leaders we are constantly required to give feedback to our employees and colleagues. “Giving quality feedback doesn’t have to do with a skill or technique, it has more to do with caring enough about people to tell it like it is.” It requires a “generosity of spirit” to give feedback on strengths as well as areas that need improvement. (Hargrove)
- Take a moment of reflection to view the recipient as a vulnerable person with feelings.
- Ask yourself how you can make this a learning experience rather than a demand.
- Be ready to explain that you have some feedback to give and be prepared to jointly explore how to proceed.
- Be straight forward; speak with honesty and integrity, but do not sugar coat or use transparent techniques such as sandwiching a negative between two positives.
- Avoid disgust, contempt, sarcasm, harsh/angry tones, put-downs and blanket statements like “your communication skills need to change.” Be sensitive to the recipient’s feelings.
- Link your feedback to what the recipient cares about – their goals and aspirations.
- Be a steward for the organization’s system, knowing that you do not know everything about it. Recognize your own contribution to the system.
- Be prepared to explore your own assumptions about the situation. Is your opinion the only possible opinion? Be curious about other possible interpretations.
- Ask leading questions that lead to a discovery of what’s missing rather than what’s wrong. Observe where the breakdown is, separate causes from effects, look for creative solutions.
- Use specific examples. Describe the situation in objective language. Example: “This is what you said”
- Explore the impact and consequences of the situation. Example: “This is how it was said, and this is how it landed.”
- Look for alternate impacts and consequences together. Emphasize potentials for contribution.
- Collaboratively develop a specific change goal by creating a vision for the future.
- Discuss what supports and learning strategies are required and where to find them.
- Consider further and frequent dialogue with the recipient.
- Recognize people for who they are, not just their accomplishments. “I’ve noticed you are a person of principle.”
Coaching Questions to Stimulate Reflection About Your Life & Work
- When was the last time you asked for feedback? What was the quality of what you received? How could you be more specific in your request?
- When was the last time you gave feedback? Were you happy with the outcome? What will you try the next time you give feedback?