Giving and receiving feedback

Maintaining momentum
Roles in a group
Running good meetings
Meeting deadlines
Giving and receiving feedback
Spotting and dealing with problems

Giving feedback should be intended to be helpful and to change behaviour.  Be gentle and positive when offering feedback, and accept feedback as being motivated by the desire to help and be constructive.

Guidelines for receiving feedback

  • Listen to the feedback. Try to understand the other person's perspective.
  • Don?t reject feedback immediately. Give the feedback serious consideration and weigh up the consequences of changing or not changing. Don't reject it immediately.
  • Express your thoughts and feelings about the feedback and possible changes.
  • Tell the person whether you intend to try and change, and in what ways.
  • Tell the person what they could do to help you make changes.
  • Express appreciation for their concern and interest. 'Thank you for the feedback' or 'Thank you for the ideas'.

Guidelines for giving feedback

  • Express your feedback in positive terms. For example, 'It would have been helpful if you had emailed the location and starting time for the meeting to everybody in the group' rather than 'How do you expect us to meet if you don't tell us the time and location'. Being positive gives an opportunity for agreement, being negative is more confrontational.
  • Be descriptive rather than evaluative. For example, 'You didn't bring the notes to the meeting, which you agreed you would' rather than 'You are lazy and unreliable'. Describing what you see and hear reduces the need for others to react emotionally.
  • Reveal your own position or feelings. For example, 'I felt intimidated when you argued your point' rather than  'You were very aggressive'. Describing your reaction gives the person an opportunity reflect and respond to the feedback.
  • Be specific rather than general. For example, 'When you spent ten minutes trying to find your data I lost interest'  rather than 'You are disorganised'.
  • Give feedback about behaviour that group members can control. It would not be helpful to comment on a person's lisp.
  • Feedback is usually more effective when requested than when given unsolicited.
  • Check out the accuracy of your feedback with other members of the group and see if they have noticed or felt the same things.
  • Generally, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behaviour.
  • Check that you have communicated your feedback clearly. Ask the person to rephrase your feedback to see if it corresponds closely to what you intended.
(Adapted from: Gibbs, G. (1994) Learning in Teams: A Student Manual. Great Britain, The Oxford Centre for Staff Development. p47; and, Gibbs, G. (1994) Learning in Teams: A Student Guide. Great Britain, The Oxford Centre for Staff Development. p13)

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