Not too long ago I read an interesting article on giving feedback written by Seth Godin some years ago.
In this article, Seth describes four rules
- “No one cares about your opinion”
- “Say the right thing at the right time”
- “If you have something nice to say, please say it”
- “Give me feedback, no matter what”
These rules are very helpful and I recommend reading the article. It helps to have a good understanding of the intention of these rules to be able to apply them at their best.
For now, I’ll stick to the principle the rules are based upon: generosity.
It’s the generosity of caring for the other person while letting that person decide herself on the path she’ll take. It’s the empathy of seeking to see the world from that person’s position.
When giving someone else feedback we are seeking to help that person. The easiest place to find something helpful is our experience, the mistakes we made, the learning we had. It’s the place of the things that feel right for us.
Using it is a slippery slope though. It is the one that leads to our opinion. It is also the one that leads to our solution.
This information is valuable and can be of great help.
What it also sometimes does, is, create the idea that it contains the right solution.
That’s where we tend to make a shortcut.
The experience we built is based on our experience which is based on a context. We are this context, our worldviews, our past experiences, our values, our learning.
The person receiving the feedback has a different context. Herself.
And that means a different experience, her values, her learning, her worldview.
Our solution can help the other person. It might still not be her solution.
It helps to remember that there is a choice available.