For me, an important aspect of life is striving to improve yourself every day, mainly because it allows you to continually develop as a person. I find that this requires mindfulness, the ability to reflect, and it is essential to have an open mind and a very thick skin. No one person is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and such instances provide us with the opportunities to actually grow.\n\nWe need to be open to suggestions of improvement, and be willing to accept such observations as feedback from others. Those around us can provide diversity of thought and give us insights that we never would have thought of, allowing us to develop otherwise untapped areas of ourselves. We also should be willing to lift up those around us, and provide feedback where needed and even courted so that everyone can benefit. With this in mind, it is vital that we provide any insights in a constructive manner, otherwise they can fall on deaf ears, or even worse, cause the the recipient to become worse off rather than better themselves.\n\nAdmirable Intentions But Execution Needs Work\n\nRecently I witnessed a conversation where two sides were trying to improve internal processes, but where the side who was providing feedback presented it in a way which left a lot to be desired. There were some truly excellent points expressed, but they were delivered in such a way that could easily demoralise and subsequently cause the recipient(s) to disengage, and even give up! The opinions raised were beyond blunt, and ventured into rant territory, but to my amazement the recipient did everything they could to extract the salient points, keep the conversation focused, and even offered to have a more personal interaction to gather further information! I learned a LOT from that interaction, including how feedback can appear to others, and how to deal great points expressed in a negative way. Fascinating!\n\nLady receiving feedback from others\n\nThis got me thinking about the concept of feedback, how it can be used as a tool for good and how great suggestions can be drowned out by improper tone and anger. It would be easy to write off the opinions of the person having a rant (who I think was having a bad day based on previous experience and helpfulness), but this would be foolish as there were excellent suggestions sprinkled within the angry-sounding words. it however did show me how a strong message can be lost if delivered in the wrong way. I wondered what advice (or feedback) I'd give to the feedback provider if the two of us had a spare moment in private together.\n\nMy Feedback on Feedback (Feedback Loop)\n\nProviding feedback is a means of helping people work towards becoming the best versions of themselves, so it is important that we focus on the journey to that Nirvana. We need to focus on the goal, and frame any character deficiency or flaw as a stepping stone towards something better. For example, if someone "lacks confidence", when delivering this observation we need to focus on how having that confidence will accentuate the life of that person. Maybe it will allow them to get what they want, maybe it will allow them to try the things they've always wanted to try, maybe they will be happier as they won't doubt themselves. Now their potential journey provides a powerful message, and the benefits are evident. By simply saying "you lack confidence", you don't inspire and likely cause them to doubt themselves more.\n\nWhen providing someone with feedback, you are effectively taking on a (brief) surrogate leadership position. If they are willing to listen, then you need to follow your observation through and provide some actual ADVICE regarding how they can improve rather than drop a sentence or two in their lap and then mosey on to your next appointment. If someone is lacking in an area, they are most-probably lacking in the knowledge required to improve in this area, so merely pointing it out is useless to them. It can come across as mean-spirited and may even demoralise. Think of the aforementioned journey. In cases where someone "lacks confidence", what can they do to build it up? Maybe join a drama group and get involved with some performances, maybe give a few presentations at work, maybe even try to start conversations with strangers. Without examples, you don't give the recipient an all important frame of reference, making your observation(s) seemingly unattainable to them.\n\nClimbing to the top after being helped by others\n\nWhen providing any feedback, remember that you are taking to a human being, not an android 🤖. This means that you have feeling and emotions to navigate, which can lead to difficulties of you aren't cognisant. My advice here is to be nice and respectful, whilst remaining firm but fair with your observations. Don't be disingenuous, mollycoddle and downplay important points as this will not be of any benefit and will actually hinder progress. Also, if you are having a bad day or are angry about something else, it would be best to refrain from giving advice until your mind is clear to ensure that you can deliver your message in the most constructive way possible. At the same time don't be an asshole, don't put others down and DON'T use it as an excuse to be nasty for the sake of being nasty. If you aren't trying to help, shut the hell up and mind your own business.\n\nFinally, be mindful of one very important fact about the world we currently live in. Not everyone is trying to be the best versions of themselves, and there are truckloads of people out there that cannot take feedback that isn't glowing with praise. Even the tiniest hint of criticism will send these individuals into a blinding rage and you may be on the receiving end of repercussions when you were only trying to help. With these people, understand the risks involved and do what you think is right. If someone doesn't want your help, remember that you aren't obliged to provide it. It's sad for me to say it, but this is as important as all other points I've made as it will save you from frustration, angst, stress and maybe more punitive measures taken out against you. None of that is worth the effort.\n\nTwo friends laughing and developing together\n\nBefore and After\n\nNow that I have made my suggestions on a more ideal way of presenting feedback, let's put my words into practice. Firstly, let's start with the previously mentioned "you lack confidence" example. Ouch! Talk about a biting remark! Thinking now as someone receiving this perl of wisdom who may have never been confident before, what am I supposed to do with that statement. I could respond with "that's true" if I'm feeling honest and self-aware, and/or I could get defensive and react hurt by the comments. Ultimately, I am clearly inexperienced in this area, and the observation doesn't help.\n\nInstead, how about we go with "Hey great job! You have a lot of positive qualities which I really think would be accentuated if you built up your confidence. This would enable you to perfect your delivery and help others see the positives of where you are coming from. Perhaps you could put yourself forward to give more presentations at work so that you get used to speaking in front of people? That could help!". See the difference? Now the recipient can see the benefits of our constructive feedback and frame the feedback as a means of personal growth and improvement and has an example of how to get started. They might try something else, but at least you've got them thinking!\n\nGirl content with constructive feedback viewing the sunrise through her fingers\n\nHow about one more? Let's go with "Your presentation ran too long", which is less personal but still not helpful. How about "Interesting presentation, it's just a shame that you went beyond the allotted time as you raised some important points. I think that there were certain (identified) slides that had too much text which could have been moved to the notes. Also you talked a bit too much about topic (a) which due to your great explanation on (identified) slide wasn't necessary. In future, it would help if you ran through the whole presentation prior to giving it in front of an audience and actually time yourself." See the difference? Here the recipient knows that they ran too long and has tangible action points they can use to improve for the future. These observations are also transferable, meaning that they can apply your advice to other (unmentioned) areas. Here the same summary message is given, but one provides the recipient with the opportunity to grow!\n\nA Personal Journey\n\nAs we navigate through our lives, it is important that we try and improve so that we can eventually become the best version of the people we are going to be. In order to do this, one important mechanism is giving and receiving honest feedback so that we all are aware of areas where we can be better with a bit of effort and hard work. When giving this feedback, we need to be mindful of the person we are speaking to, and the method of delivery we use to ensure our message has the desired effect. We should also be able to take criticism that is constructive, and use it to grow and strengthen our character, to the betterment of us, and to everyone else around us.\n\nTake care and all the best. Si.