Giving and Receiving Feedback

Giving and receiving constructive criticism is a part of good communication in healthcare. The following guidelines for giving/receiving constructive feedback are helpful for building trust, contributing to healthy workplace cultures, and honoring privacy.

General Guidelines for Giving Feedback

Kind and helpful. Check in with your own intentions around offering feedback. Helping someone grow and learn is much different than a put-down.  Accept some discomfort in the process.  
Check to see if feedback is wanted. Keep in mind that timing and location are crucial. "I have some feedback for you. Are you open hearing it?" (If no, respect the person's decision). If you are in a leadership position and giving feedback that you must give, don’t offer an option. If there is room for choice around time and place, it can be helpful to honor those.
Look for opportunities to include ownership. Keep in mind that your feedback is based on your observation and to some extent what it means to you. Notice the difference:
You’re so negative and angry.
My sense is that you are angry and it feels like negative energy to me.
Be specific & don't judge or exaggerate. Describe what you want to feed back without using words that indicate judgment. Don't use labels and don't exaggerate. Avoid loaded expressions such as "never" or "always."
I’m getting this impression from your tone and facial expressions.
Focus on your concern for the person and behaviors that can be changed. Monitor your attachment to "being right" or for the person changing in ways that you think they should.
I’m worried about you and how your tone and facial expressions are impacting the team and maybe your job performance.
Perception check. Ask question to see if your message has been accurately heard, remembering that the message sent is not always the message received. You may need to present the feedback differently.
Ask questions. In addition to sharing your thoughts, ask the person their opinions. Allow the receiver to suggest changes in behavior before offering options.
Do you know what I’m talking about? What thoughts do you have?

General Guidelines for Receiving Feedback

Breathe. Remember you are a worthy person, separate from your actions and behaviors. Feedback is from the giver’s perspective and you can choose what to take in.
Consider your choices. Is it a good or at least reasonable time and place for feedback? Is there a way to schedule a dialogue soon, but allows you to honor any needs you have around time, vulnerability, place or other issues?
I do want to hear what you have to say, but have to be in a meeting in 5 minutes. Are you available after school or before classes tomorrow?
Listen carefully & try to drop your defensiveness. Paraphrase the information you are receiving to make sure you understand the information. Validate them and ask questions for clarity.
It sounds like you were upset about the way I handled the situation in my classroom and that you are worried about me. Do I understand you correctly?
Acknowledge the feedback. Let the person know you have heard them and that you will consider their feedback.
Take time to sort out what you have heard. Give yourself time and space to assimilate and evaluate the information. Remember that it's not necessary to agree or disagree with the feedback. It is simply information. Let go of the need to justify, defend, or explain your actions. Don't
over-internalize the feedback (assume it is all true).
Be honest with yourself. Use feedback as an opportunity to create greater awareness. Explore any feelings created by the feedback.  Accept some discomfort in the process.
Give yourself credit. Receiving feedback is hard work.

Beth Boynton, RN, MS

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