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To learn better we need specific feedback to help us pause, adjust, and try again. But what actually makes for feedback that effectively helps someone improve? After all, providing and responding to feedback can be tricky, and thinking through effective feedback is an extremely nuanced process. According to Khatera Sahibzada’s article for Fast Company, our brains are wired to perceive feedback as negative, even if it’s constructive, since we read feedback as something dangerous. Sahibzada suggests that we consider these areas before we give feedback: is it true, necessary, and kind? Asking ourselves these three questions can help us deliver more thoughtful feedback. Fast Company also suggests avoiding the “praise sandwich,” which is when criticism is bookended by unhelpful compliments, often done to cushion or soften the perceived blow of critical feedback. Instead, clearly pointing out what works and what doesn’t, and posing critiques as questions that empower people to take responsibility instead of giving a command are ways to give constructive feedback. Finally, nonverbal cues are key, particularly demonstrating empathy through eye contact, tone of voice, and full attention. The next time you have feedback to give, it may be worth taking a moment to consider how you are delivering it.
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