Whether we are on the giving or on the receiving part of feedback, we need to make it very clear that there is a distinction between what we do and who we are.
This is liberating. Understanding that what the other person is saying is not a personal critique, as well as approaching the act of providing feedback with the intent of not imposing our worldview on the other, is what makes a relationship stronger and thriving.
So, when we ask for feedback, let’s be specific in what we are seeking. Can you tell me what you think of this thing I wrote? Do you think I should use this or that framework? What would you do to make it better? How do you think I could get better at presenting?
And let it be clear (to us) that what is at stake is not our character, our career, our relationships, our life, our future, our being. Only a minuscule part of that.
When we prepare to give feedback, on the other hand, let’s focus on things that happened and on how we interpreted that or how it made us feel. When that happened, I noticed everyone in the room went silent. This other framework is used more in such cases, because… . I really liked that part of your last e-mail, I find it showed great empathy and consideration. Your presentation featured very interesting information for the company, and with this and that you can make it memorable next time.
If we set a middle ground to have the conversation, without aggressing the other person’s space and building a resistance to our more vulnerable self with awareness and confidence, the magic of candor can truly happen.