In psychology the term feedback refers to giving someone input about him/herself based on an observation process.

The word feedback has entered everyday language and it is now largely used, and even abused, to the point that its power and potential have been trivialized. On one side, we are all extremely eager for feedback, we long to receive them, we wish to be seen, to know who we are according to others; on the other, an underlying, implicit implication wants all feedback to be positive; in other words, all feedback should confirm our perception of ourselves.

Within the self-empowerment approach, feedback are used as a developmental tool supporting and fostering individual growth. Such feedback is not merely focused on the current observed behaviors/perceptions/attitudes, it rather pertains the person as a whole, his/her overall potential and it aims at triggering personal improvement.

Feedback is a demanding process:

  • It is demanding to receive feedback as it “rocks the boat” while taking you out of your comfort zone and challenging you to explore new sides of yourself;

  • it is demanding to give effective feedback: one may be tempted to procrastinate, to “water down” his/her feedback or to provide confirmatory feedback only, while not daring to say those things that would really make a difference.

Thinking of the most useful feedback, the ones that may have hurt a little bit but that have turned out to be key for your development, they undoubtedly had the following characteristics:

  • Were based on actual observation;
  • Were given in a supportive environment and were assisted by an authentic communication;
  • Were given by someone that truly “roots for” the other and his/her development;

  • Were focused on the strengths and the resources vs. focusing on the faults only;
  • Used a direct and sharp communication style, are challenging and make no discounts.

In short, feedback is an act of generosity, it’s somewhat risky and it’s undoubtedly a chance to develop new skills and challenge oneself, both on the receiver’s as well as on the giver’s side.

We suggest you a small exercise:

  • Think of someone you deeply care about: make a list of all his/her special qualities
  • Now try to answer this question: “if you could add a further quality to your list, if you could give this person a resource he/she doesn’t posses at the moment and that would really make a difference for him/her, what would that be?”
  • Now be brave, go up to this person and tell him/her: “I’ve got feedback for you; I’d be glad to share it with you when, and if, you feel ready”
  • If you get a positive answer, give him/her your feedback and let us know how it worked for you in the comments…

P.S. when giving your feedback, remember to start off with the qualities and to mention the skill/ability that still needs to be developed only after.

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