Scientists know the answer to the question of how to give feedback effectively at work. There are universal rules for this.
In order for negative feedback not to seem hurtful and to really contribute to progress, it must be constructive and detailed - it must be clear to the employee how to correct the situation.
It is also important to make feedback a normal part of the work process and give it regularly: then employees will not feel that they are suddenly bombarded with criticism.
And, of course, the critic's attitude is very important: it is not so important what tactics he chooses, as long as he is friendly and open to criticism himself.
This, however, is only a theory. In practice, managers often do not even think about how best to present feedback. As a result, it demotivates, reduces productivity, and worsens team relations. It is impossible to teach every colleague to criticize ethically, but there is another way - to learn how to properly respond to criticism, even if it does not seem constructive. This will help you defend your point of view and avoid conflict.
Here are seven techniques that will make your communication at work more effective.
Situation. You have made a mistake, your work is criticized, or you have to argue to defend your vision.
What to do. Find something useful in the other person's words, note it and thank him. Even if now the criticism seems unfounded and the other person's opinion seems absurd, chances are that you were given a useful hint. Your response will show that you hear the other person, appreciate their perspective, and adequately evaluate the content of the conversation.
"You're right. I really hadn't considered this parameter. Thank you very much for the remark. Now I'll think a little more about what you said, and I'll figure out how to correct the situation.
Situation. You're involved in an important negotiation, but you can't agree on a common denominator. You want to show the interlocutor that you are serious about the case, or simply to accommodate him.
What to do. Retell what the interlocutor said in your own words. You can also quote him verbatim, but in this form it is better to repeat only a part of what he said. This way you show that you are listening carefully and remembering everything you were told.
"I understand your comment about my project. The project needs to work on expanding its client base. I'll keep that in mind for the future."
Situation. You are not sure that you fully understand what the other person wants. Or it seems to you that between you absolute understanding, but the conversation is important and a mistake will be expensive.
What to do. Ask clarifying questions. Often we second-guess the thoughts and intentions of the interlocutor: sometimes we get them right, sometimes - not. At work, the price of a mistake is high. For example, we have to waste time to redo a task that has already been completed, or to smooth out a conflict that occurred solely because of a misunderstanding.
"Okay, let's make sure I understand you correctly. Are you suggesting we put this job on hold and wait until we get all the information we need?"
Try combining this technique with paraphrasing: they work great together.
"You said that many of our department's performance indicators have deteriorated in recent months. Can you be more specific about which metrics are worth improving?"
Situation. You have to argue to defend your opinion, but it is important not to lose the interlocutor's favor and to reach a compromise. Or you want to ask the person for something, but are not sure he wants to help.
What to do. Praise the other person. During an argument, compliments help ease the tension. And a person who likes you is more likely to do you a favor than an indifferent person.
But be careful: compliments should not be awkward and inappropriate, or they can, on the contrary, repel the interlocutor. Ideally, if they are sincere and related to the context in which you are. For example, to praise the appearance of a colleague during an argument is definitely not worth it, but it will be appropriate to note his professionalism and express your respect.
"I admire your experience in dealing with such issues. And I'm very happy even to have the opportunity to present my project to you and to hear your feedback.
Expression of understanding
The situation. The interlocutor points out mistakes: his own, yours or others', suggests that you change something in your work, or simply complains.
What to do. Emphasize that you understand the difficulties the person is facing. You can recall and mention instances when you yourself were in a similar situation. But don't talk about yourself too much, so that you don't get the feeling that you're pulling the blanket over yourself. Let the person you're talking to calm down and see how considerate and compassionate you are.
"I know exactly what you mean. This is a really difficult client, and I've had those too."
This technique can also be combined with paraphrasing.
"You think we need to use other tools to attract customers: collaborate more with well-known portals and do social media. And I understand why you think that."
The situation. You are trying to impose extra work, telling off for someone else's failures, or set deadlines so that all the deadlines can be met only if you work overtime.
What to do. Confident, calmly and friendly remind what is part of your duties, and what is not. You can appeal to the labor code, the employment contract, job description and job offer, although the latter is worth remembering that it has no legal force. This way you show yourself to be a competent and confident employee and protect your personal time from encroachment.
Defending your work boundaries is very important. You will know your part of the job and you won't overburden yourself with unnecessary work. There is a misconception that those who work the hardest are more likely to get promoted. In fact, those who know how to present the products of their work in a winning light are more likely to get promoted.
- Why hasn't the delivery schedule been set up yet?
- I only got more information last night. It was already ten to six, and my workday ends at six. So I'm working on the schedule today. I'll finish it soon and send it to you.
Try combining this technique with an expression of understanding. That way you can soften your answer and draw your interlocutor to you.
- Why hasn't the delivery schedule been spelled out yet? You're embarrassing me in front of the department manager.
- It's really very embarrassing. I know the schedule should have been approved last week. Unfortunately, I can't help you. Vasily is in charge of the schedule. I am only responsible for negotiating with clients.
Situation. Your work is criticized, either for a good reason or undeservedly. Or you do a project along with a colleague, but for some reason the result is always attributed to him.
What to do. Highlight your contribution to the work. Do it in detail and calmly. If you are criticized, first let the critic make all the comments, and then pay attention to all that you did well.
To make it work, rehearse your story of accomplishments in advance and record it on a tape recorder. Then listen and adjust your intonation and content. You don't have to memorize anything, just practice: The speech should not sound mechanical.
"When I got hooked on the project, I focused on delivery. Within a month I was able to set up deliveries in ten stores. I negotiated discounts with the supplier and formalized the arrangements."
What's the bottom line
Effective communication, like any other skill, needs to be learned. Use techniques as often as possible to learn them faster. You can practice not only at work, but also with friends and family.
Remember that you can freely combine techniques with each other. The main thing is not to go overboard: if you use more than three techniques at the same time, you may sound unconvincing and false. Over time, you will begin to intuitively know which technique is appropriate to use, and whether to combine it with the other.
Some of the techniques of effective communication will be easy for you to incorporate in everyday communication, others are more difficult. Sometimes attempts to verbally "disarm", "stroke" and "paraphrase" the interlocutor will be awkward and awkward. Take it easy: difficulties and failures are an inevitable part of learning. Keep improving your skills, and your communication at work will become more effective.