Giving Receivable Feedback

Have you ever received feedback that felt hyper-critical or invasive? I don’t like getting feedback like that, and I don’t like giving it. Recently, a friend gave me some really good advice on how to give receivable feedback. I’ve used it a couple times, and it has worked really well. I took his advice and broke it down to these steps:

– Breath

– State your purpose – “I want to give you some feedback”

– Describe the behavior you see – “I notice that in this situation, you…”

– Explain the affect of the behavior – “When you do that, this is what I see happen…”

– Give the feedback – Paint a picture of the modified behavior and it’s potential impact

I’ve got a good example to illustrate. I take the bus a couple times a week from my home to the office. It’s a 17-mile drive down a very curvy canyon. I like to read on the bus. Some drivers are very smooth drivers, go a respectable speed, and handle the curves well. With these drivers, you feel safe and you can read without getting sick.

A few weeks ago, I had a driver who sped up at every straight-away (no matter how short), hit the brakes in every curve, and all-in-all drove too fast. It felt unsafe and I couldn’t read a few pages without getting nauseous from all the lurching around. I also noticed that when we got to a stop mid-way down the canyon, we stayed there for a couple minutes. I guessed that this was because he drove so fast down the first half of the canyon and couldn’t leave the stop ahead of schedule. I had him twice in two weeks and I decided on the second ride to give him feedback.

I used my friend’s approach. At the end of the line, where I get off, I waited until everyone was off the bus, so I could talk to him alone. I took a deep breath and imagined what it would be like to receive the feedback I was about to give. I think this made me more receptive and receivable. I said, “I have some feedback for you”. He didn’t say anything, but he seemed available for more. I then said, “I noticed that coming down the canyon, you speed up on all the straight-aways and brake on all the curves. It makes for an uncomfortable ride and feels unsafe. I also noticed that at the Magnolia stop, we wait there for 2-3 minutes.”

I paused, and he said “that’s because we always get to the stop ahead of schedule and I need to wait to leave there.”

I said, “I wondered that. You know, if you drove slower down the canyon, you could give folks a more comfortable ride, it would feel more safe, and you wouldn’t have to wait at the Magnolia stop.”

He replied with, “thanks for the feedback.”

I thought it went pretty well, but wasn’t sure if he was going to take my advice or not. I have had him as a driver twice since then. And both times he drove very safely all the way down the canyon and did not take an extended stop halfway down. And I got to read the whole way.

If you have experience giving/receiving feedback that you’d like to share, please do. I’d like to hear other suggestions and/or comments.

3 thoughts on “Giving Receivable Feedback

  1. The other day at work, I wanted to tell my friend that her hairdo wasn’t becoming. I started out with, “I’m a good-enough friend to give you some constructive criticism on your hair, yes?” She agreed and I told her, “You’re too pretty to put the front of your hair in that style; it’s not flattering.” She said, “Really? Thanks for telling me.” took the style out, and hasn’t worn it since. I know she’s very conscious of her appearance, she knows I care about her, so it worked.

    • The next ride that I was on that he drove, I made a point to thank him for the excellent drive that morning. Saying exactly that – “thank you for the excellent drive.” It was not explicitly “thank you for hearing my feedback”, but I believe the appreciation is known.

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