What is the best way to provide feedback? Just ACE it!

“Let it rest before you let it rule.”

Mark Bone

Are we giving feedback properly?

Is our feedback a poisonous gift?

What if we could give constructive feedback?

I have always struggled with feedback, either as a recipient of it or as an originator.

When I give feedback, I always struggle to know the limits of what I should address or not for the person asking me for feedback.

How sincere should I be? How far should I go back in time? Do I need to tell that person all the small things irritating me when working with her?

When I receive feedback, I don’t know how to handle it. I am not well equipped to receive feedback. I always focus on what I perceive as negative.

I fixate on that and that I am going on that rabbit hole again.

I am always divided by the value feedback provides versus the judgment of the person behind the feedback.

I know that feedback is a gift. I know that I should dissociate the message from the messenger.

I know that there is always truth in feedback. I know that I can learn a lot about myself. Because when people give feedback, there is always a part of the truth and an opportunity to learn and grow.

I don’t like giving or receiving feedback. That is where I am.

I feel not well equipped to handle it.

That was until I discovered how to ACE it each time systematically.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to feedback. That was my first mistake.

There are 3 components to feedback:

  1. Appreciation,
  2. Coaching,
  3. Evaluation.

Regarding feedback, there are 2 forces at play: the negative bias and the praise to-criticism golden ratio.

The Negative Bias — “The negativity bias,[1] also known as the negativity effect, is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things.”

Source: Wikipedia

The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio — According to a study from Harvard Business Review (HBR), the ideal ratio is not 1:1.

I would be curious to know what you think is the correct ratio.

According to HBR, the ratio is the same as in the Bible with one tweak. Yes, maybe you are not a religious person.

Basically, God created everything in 6 days and rested on Sunday.

There you have it. The ideal praise to criticism ratio is 6:1.

I just imagine if I have to praise 6 times for each criticism I have said.

I would keep my mouth shut.

Now I understand better why I always feel uncomfortable with feedback. And I believe that most of us do not always understand its impact and how to package it properly so that it can be that “gift” everybody is talking about.

1. APPRECIATION — When talking about appreciation, we can express how we appreciate interacting with the feedback seeker.

We must make it very specific so that the other person can connect with what we are saying.

We must list as many things we appreciate from the other person as possible, keeping in mind the praise to criticism golden ratio.

2. COACHING — In this kind of feedback, we want to put our shoes in the ones of a coach for the feedback seeker or receiver.

We want to formulate our feedback to help them grow. We must provide them with actionable advice with the context in mind.

There are many ways to provide advice when coaching people. One can be to start a sentence with:

If I were facing the same situation, I would have done it this way because….

3. EVALUATION — We all know this kind of feedback and often give only that kind of feedback.

In the evaluation feedback, we assess how the receiver performed in the evaluation feedback compared to the assessment grid.

We can do better on this part by agreeing on upfront on the goals to achieve and which metrics will be used to perform the evaluation.

Because often, people are surprised by their feedback because they were not sure about the frame of the evaluation.

While talking about frames, the time frame of the content of the evaluation is also key. Indeed we cannot provide evaluation feedback on an event that was too far in the past.

What is the best way to make feedback a gift?

Keeping in mind the negative bias and the ideal praise to criticism ratio, one way to make feedback a gift is to do it regularly.

Indeed by performing feedback regularly, we can dedicate 3 sessions to appreciation, 3 sessions to coaching, and 1 to evaluation.

One thing we can also do is to share the type and intent of our feedback beforehand. We want the receiver to prepare physically and mentally to receive the feedback.

We might ask about the possibility of mixing the 3 types in one feedback session.

Yes, it is possible as long as we spend more time on appreciation and coaching and not only on evaluation. This kind of feedback is more suited for situations where feedback is not performed regularly.

If we are at the receiver spectrum, we must carve the word of Mark Bone in our mind:

Let it rest before you let it rule!

When we receive feedback, we naturally trigger our negative bias. And most of the time, we are far from the ideal praise to criticism ratio.

We get angry and frustrated; we doubt ourselves and want to react in the heat of the situation.

We need to let it rest because we understand that the best gifts are slept over.

When we were kids, we would go to bed on Christmas eve. And we were thrilled when we would wake up with so many gifts from Santa in the Christmas tree.

By mixing appreciation, coaching, and evaluation, we wrap feedback in a gift that we would be happy to be the receiver of.

We can do better by using the negative bias and the ideal praise to criticism ratio to our advantage.

By letting it rest before it rules, we can take the gift of feedback as a light shed on our blind side so that we can learn and grow.

I don’t know about you. I feel more equipped to be on either spectrum of feedback now.

If you find this newsletter of any value to you, please like it, subscribe and share it with one person to pay it forward.

#Dare2Care #Dare2Share

#BIOS #BringInyourOwnSoul #LeadHeartship #Leadership

You can read my previous article on Following these 3 steps will bring joy into our journey at work for our colleagues and us. (Friendly link)



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Ahmadou Diallo ✪

Ahmadou Diallo ✪

🤎 Afropean 📖 Griot 🧙🏿‍♂️Mentor 💪🏿 Entrepreneur