Influential Feedback: How to Recognize and Provide Feedback That Influences Behaviors

According to a Gallup survey conducted 85% of people hate their job. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. The modern day knowledge worker is deprived of the right feedback loops, either you receive feedback that’s not significant or the feedback you give falls on deaf ears. Without influential feedback it becomes impossible to progress. A small 1% progression takes quarters to make any change.

A critical part of professional growth is recognizing which feedback is influential. The quicker this feedback can be implemented, the faster your product, service, or behaviors change. Progress is a result of this implementation. With enough feedback you can develop a significant advantage over time. 

If you’ve spent significant time around a great coach or leader you know that what makes them great is their ability to deliver influential feedback. Their feedback gives you an idea on where you stand today and how you can improve or progress. Your learning process is driven entirely by the quality of feedback you can receive. Feedback moves you closer to becoming a master at your craft.

The difference between good and bad feedback requires you develop an ability to recognize it, while mastering the principles by providing even stronger feedback.

Recognizing the right feedback

Recognizing the right feedback is more of an art than it is a science. Everyone wants to feel heard. The issue arises in the fact that people don’t know what motivates them or where they’re struggling. If they did, all the information needed for success would be widely available.

It’s your job as an entrepreneur and leader to understand where problems are arising today so that you can give them exactly what they want in the future. You must take a high level view of what works and what doesn’t to keep progressing forward. Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter said, the internet is “a giant machine designed to give people what they want. We often think the internet enables you to do new things… But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.” The right feedback is universal. It’s not specific to one person's experience or need.

There’s always a difference between what others have declared and what they prefer. Neil Graman, an English writer, once said "When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to for it, they are almost always wrong." To collaborate effectively you need to know what inputs you should be taking in. Someone from the outside doesn’t have the proper context or information to know what the best way to fix something is. If you only listen to what they declare you’ll end up heading in the wrong direction. 

If someone says something is wrong it’s your responsibility to dig into it deeper. Do the discovery to find out what they prefer. Don’t stop at just what they have declared.

Delivery influential feedback

As a leader it’s not only your job to recognize the right feedback, but also deliver it. In delivering effective feedback you’ll develop a deeper understanding of how to recognize the great feedback. 

Since I was 20 years old I’ve been obsessed with seeking advice from people that are at different milestones I want to achieve in my career. In college, I sent 902 cold messages on LinkedIn asking for a 20 minute phone call to learn from different people’s experiences as I was trying to figure out what to do with my career. For almost 8 months I was sending 10 messages a day, everyday.

Two years ago, I met Tom who became massively influential to my life as a mentor. He’s shaped the way I communicate, helped me through tough situations, and deepened the understanding of my style of leadership. 

I talked to a lot of different people doing a lot of different jobs, but no one was able to teach me more than Tom has today. The reason he has been so influential is because he’s spent his whole career mastering the ability to give the right feedback.

He gives great feedback because, maybe unknowingly, he abides by Warren Buffet's old rule, “praise specifically, criticize generally.” 

When you’re providing feedback don’t make it personal unless it’s something you’re praising the person on. Otherwise just criticize the process or approach. Declare your preferred approach but never dictate what the outcome should be, that makes it personal.

Delivering feedback is just as much of an art as recognizing it. People’s insecurities and egos naturally creep in. In the pursuit of progress, don’t forget about the human aspect. Feedback is never personal, it should always be for the good of the cause. Focus on implementing influential feedback, that’s how the greatest businesses and skills are built.

FOOTNOTES

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