We hear the word “feedback” used a lot in the workplace to cover a whole range of things–clients give us feedback on goods and services we offer, we ask our bosses for feedback on project ideas, and we are sometimes expected to give feedback to colleagues or employees on everything from shared work tasks to job performance.
If you’re a musician, “feedback” isn’t a good thing. It’s usually the high-pitched shriek from an improperly set amplifier; sometimes it’s just static. It’s unpleasant, and it tells you that something is wrong.
That’s not, of course, what it means in a business setting–and that’s not what it should ever be like. But many of us find feedback difficult, both to give and to take.
Most of us genuinely want to receive constructive feedback on how we’re doing, so that we can improve our performance. And most of us want to be able to address concerns we have with colleagues’ performance, clients’ expectations, or bosses’ leadership. But taking criticism of any sort can be difficult, and finding the right words to criticise others can be even harder (especially if we really need to let someone know that we’re displeased).
There are positive and productive ways to listen, and to talk. Non-violent communication (NVC), a technique originally pioneered by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, focuses on turning potential conflict into fruitful dialogue. It can be useful in both professional and personal settings, and can help you take control of the feedback process.