Monday, January 12, 2009

Feedback is a Gift

by Gilda Bonanno, http://www.gildabonanno.com

I recently was facilitating training programs in Shanghai, China, for Chinese employees of a US multinational company. One of the concepts that the participants struggled with was giving feedback to their peers and managers. They viewed feedback as negative and causing the other person to lose face.

In order to help them understand how important feedback is in the company culture, I described it as a gift that they give the other person. Rather than causing the other person to lose face, feedback (delivered in a respectful and professional manner) can help the other person by giving them information about their behavior and its impact on others. Giving feedback - and being open to receiving feedback in return - was a way they could demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement. With much encouragement and practice, they got used to the concept.

That experience got me thinking about how we receive feedback - do our actions show that we view it as a gift?

Think about it: how do you ask for feedback? Is your body language sending the message that you really don't want to hear the feedback, especially if it's negative? Do you interrupt the person giving you feedback to disagree and defend your actions?

If we are commited to continuously improving ourselves, then feedback is a gift that we should welcome - and our actions should demonstrate that we welcome it.

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