Proactively asking for valuable feedback can be intimidating but the benefits are numerous with enhanced possibilities for personal growth, increased performance, deeper relationships, insightful decision-making and valuable insights. But how do we ask for and receive that type of valuable feedback?
Here, we will cover some guidelines that will hopefully help to stimulate conversation and provide an outline for honest and open conversation in obtaining feedback. We cover four areas that include a safe and open environment, tone of voice, open-ended questions and active listening.
One: A Safe and Open Environment
Creating a safe and open environment to gain valuable feedback involves several key strategies. Being receptive to feedback within a group or individually is a way to lead by example and encourages others to share their thoughts openly. Creating clear guidelines or boundaries are helpful to provide a safe environment and should be initiated, especially in a group.
Fostering psychological safety is crucial. This involves creating a space where individuals feel safe to express their opinions without fear of negative consequences or harsh comebacks. In many cases, this is the responsibility of a facilitator to set reasonable boundaries to further move conversations forward within a group. A good facilitator will be able to rephrase comments and repeat them to encourage future participation.
Two: Tone of Voice
It is essential to adopt a warm and welcoming tone when requesting feedback. This creates an atmosphere that encourages open and honest communication. Tone of voice will usually reflect an attitude, whether of kindness or judgment. A kind and empathetic tone demonstrated during conversations including feedback demonstrates one’s genuine interest in understanding the other person’s perspective.
By remaining calm and composed, respect is demonstrated on both sides, from those giving feedback and those receiving feedback. It creates a culture of safety where opinions can be expressed freely, which may or may not align with other participants viewpoints. A defensive or argumentative attitude shuts down varied viewpoints, instilling fear and hesitancy, especially for those who may tend to be less vocal.
Three: Open-Ended Questions
When formulating open-ended questions such as “how,” “what,” “why,” describe,” or “tell me about,” we invite others to share their experiences, perspectives and insights more thoroughly than a question with a yes or no answer. For example, instead of asking, “Did you like the livestream I just posted?” you can ask, “What aspects of the livestream stood out to you and why?” That type of question will then lead to other questions which could be extremely helpful for future livestreams.
For a more thorough response that encourages further reflection, the previous question could be expanded even more to, “How does the livestream message align with our overall messaging?” or “Are there ways we could have communicated in a clearer or more authentic way?” By asking these types of thought-provoking questions, we invite individuals to share thoughts, ideas, and suggestions that can lead to improvements and insights. However, the stark reality is that most don’t value follow-up questions. Many ask a question while mentally formulating their next response to talk about their own agenda or sales pitch. Crafting some open-ended questions in advance proves to be a very valuable process in order to stimulate conversations, especially with unexpected opportunities.
Four: Active Listening
When individuals practice active listening, they demonstrate genuine interest in what others have to say, fostering an environment of trust and open communication. By actively listening, focus is on the other person with eye contact and non-verbal cues that what the other person is saying has value. When people feel like they are being heard and understood, they are more likely to provide honest, detailed and valuable feedback. When the listener is listening honestly and actively, not thinking of what they will say as soon as they can cut in, there is a better chance of fully absorbing the message and perspective that is communicated.
Part of active listening includes paying close attention to both verbal and non-verbal clues, which may relay subtle nuances and emotions. By doing so, the ability and likelihood of probing deeper for additional feedback with relevant questions and clarification increases in its possibility. Mirroring what has been said is another way of communicating active listening and is a very effective tool Chris Voss shares in his book Never Split the Difference on negotiation, used successfully in in hostage negotiation.
Applying Valuable Feedback
Marriage relationships, entrepreneurs, leaders and team members will all benefit from asking and receiving valuable feedback. The results are that individuals can experience enhanced trust, intimacy and improved team dynamics.
The principles shared here apply easily to performance evaluations, business strategies and personal goals and relationships. Embracing feedback fosters growth, facilitates improvement and empowers individuals to realize their full potential.
Fostering psychological safety involves creating a space where individuals feel safe to express their opinions without fear of negative consequences or harsh comebacks.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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