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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 2, Lesson 3

Giving and Receiving Feedback

It is often a challenge to give constructive feedback to a fellow team member. Receiving feedback can be equally challenging. Many authors have discussed methods of giving and receiving feedback. Below is a summary of the most common recommendations.

When giving feedback, it is important to have a positive attitude. Give feedback with the intent of helping the individual or the team. Be sure you are calm, composed, and above all, respectful. Do not attempt to give feedback when you are hurt or angry. Be sure your message is clear and specific. Focus on the behavior that you would like to see changed, rather than on the person who engages in the behavior. If possible, include a positive message along with your feedback. Be brief and to the point. For example, "Jane, you did a wonderful job interviewing the Smith family this morning. However, I was a little bit hurt that you did not introduce me right away. For a while, I did not really feel like I was part of the team..." Ideally, a productive discussion will ensue, and the team members will function more effectively in the future.

Keep in mind that sometimes, feedback is given in private and sometimes it is given during a team meeting. The above example would probably have been given in private. An example of feedback that might be given during a team meeting would be, "Matt, I really appreciate your organization, but sometimes I feel as though our team follows the agenda a little too strictly. Sometimes, I am reluctant to express ideas because there is no place for them on the agenda. What do some of the rest of you think?"

When giving feedback, it is important to do so in a non-judgmental way. If the person receiving the feedback feels attacked, your message will not be heard.

When receiving feedback, it is important to remain calm and open-minded. Make a genuine effort to understand what your fellow team member is saying. Respect the speaker's right to express his or her views. Make a sincere attempt to 'take in' the message.

Problems can occur when the person receiving feedback refuses to listen, denies the validity of the feedback, dismisses the feedback without due consideration, argues, becomes defensive or belligerent. Instead of regarding the feedback as criticism, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Your team cannot thrive without the open exchange of opinions and viewpoints. At some point in time, you will probably have the experience of giving feedback to another team member, and hopefully, that member will take your feedback seriously. Likewise, when you find yourself in the position of receiving feedback from a team member, show that team member respect by carefully considering his/her message.

If you find yourself confused, ask questions and seek clarification. Openly discuss your perceptions, ideas and feelings with the team. Try to agree on a workable solution to the problem (Briggs, 1997).


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