Perhaps one of the hardest professional skills to develop is giving and receiving feedback. However, it’s important to remember that outside opinions often make our work better. Additionally, you must realize that constructive feedback is not personal and should not make you upset at the other person when they are trying to help you improve. I believe that once you begin to give and receive feedback in a positive matter, you will become a leader worth following.
As an example, the executive officer team and I had a lot of practice giving and receiving feedback at our mid-year meeting. During one of our workdays, we spent several hours delivering our individual keynote remarks to each other, along with scripts for future DECA conferences. By performing this exercise, we were able to listen to each other and provide suggestions on how to improve our speaking.
As mentioned, it’s important not to take suggestions personally, but rather receive the feedback and apply it to make you better in different aspects. As a team, we did exactly that and used the time to improve our public speaking skills for upcoming events. For instance, one piece of feedback given to an officer was to slow down when speaking so that the audience would be able to visualize what was being said before moving onto the next topic. Another suggestion was to acknowledge the crowd more and smile, which will help get the intended message across more effectively. I received feedback about choosing the most important parts of the speech to emphasize, which will get the audience more engaged and hopefully allow them to remember the most significant details.
Another important thing to remember during the feedback process is to try and always give constructive feedback and to also provide a compliment. Doing this will balance the advice so that it isn’t too one-sided for the receiver. Ultimately, the goal is for the person to apply the feedback and make necessary adjustments based on the suggestions. When our team made adjustments and listened to the feedback shared, we all improved exponentially.
My last piece of advice is to realize that the process requires a combination of several unique skills. Not everyone knows how to effectively receive feedback and make quality changes for improvement, but it can also be a challenge to present constructive feedback in a positive manner. Overall, these skills do take time to learn. However, once you get comfortable with giving and receiving feedback, you and the people around you will benefit tremendously.