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A special answer: Feedback
a). ideal feedback
b). receiving feedback
c). characteristic features
d). stages of the feedback
e). techniques of the feedback
Adopting the habits of requiring evaluations, even if they are or they are not favourable to us.
Learning to criticise without offending.
Making the difference between positive thinking and scepticism.
Forming some benevolent and encouraging attitudes.
Ask the participants to draw up a list with their necessities in their capacity of citizens of sector X.
A participant has to read the complaints, and the others have to comment upon the accomplishment degree.
Analyse the quality of the objections: are they relating to the list with necessities presented or are they critical of the mayoralty or of the leaders to power.
Which of the remarks of his colleagues might have helped him to draw up again the list of priorities.
Feedback means the answer reaction that the receiver has towards the message received from the sender. It is a modality of helping somebody understand the effects produced by a certain message (action, attitude, behaviour, etc.) on the addressee of the respective message. Dr. Matthew J. Kieman, president of Innovest Group International, is convinced of the fact that successful companies in our century shall have to possess instruments of feedback and of data collection, such as the information system for managers and systems of assessing the achievements, capable to offer information with strategic relevance to the right persons in the right place. Assessing the achievements is absolutely mandatory for organisational learning.
It is necessary to observe several requirements in order to have a good answer.
It is objective, not sentimental
We do not have to beg for appraisals, we do not need to hear once again what we said. We should not be satisfied with affirmations of the kind I liked it or I did not like it. Pleasure is an important component of taste, but it is not a sufficient argument in order to convince It is in our interest to find out what was of interest and why. Feedback does not refer to reasons, goals, and intentions. It must not appeal to feelings and impressions. We must not forget that appraisal words and expressions, with a mainly negative emotional content, develop a defensive reaction and block communication.
It is more useful to focus on what the interlocutor did or said than to evaluate him describing his character or his personality based on what he did, what he said, etc. For example – You would better say to somebody: “I think that Victor did not like you interrupted him while he was speaking” than: ”You are impetuous, you knocked Victor out!”
When a teacher wants to assess the activity of a pupil, he has to prove the reason of his assessment, so that the pupil may repeat the performance. The simple affirmations: well done, good, much better than the last time are not in the position to make him form habits, but only to offer him short term happiness. Think, if you find yourselves in this kind of situation, that the pupil will go home and tell his parents that lady spoke highly of him, and he will not be able to tell why, while the parents, in their turn, will not be able to take steps in order to improve the performance. Something similar happens between two mature persons: it is not enough to say today I liked the way you reacted, although it is flattering. A supplementary explanation is needed: because somebody else in your situation would have probably said so and so, but you showed your loyalty, your intelligence, your ability, your delicacy (from one case to another, we chose the word), and your attitude caused me a great joy, I shall keep a good memory of this event, for a long while.
Definite, not based on principles
It is more useful to refer to specific situations than to generalise. If a remark is so general that it is applicable to anybody or to very many persons, it does not have a special value: what is the same for everybody is not the same for anybody… Affirmations of the kind: you, men, are thinking only of or, I know how women are, they are thinking only of are far from making people get closer or from bringing any news. Such words do not produce any pleasure to anybody and they do not offer any chance to be taken seriously into consideration. After all, there is nothing to understand from these words, even if the suspension points above were not missing. How men are and how women are? Generally speaking, we may say anything, and what could anybody gain from the affirmations: men have two legs, women have two hands. Men like beautiful women, Women like serious men. Women are not faithful to their husbands, men cheat their wives.
And the list may go on for ever, creating the illusion that we said something, when, in fact, all we did was to offend the interlocutor out of at least two reasons: we categorised him as a negative character and we obligatorily included him in an amorphous set, contesting his individuality and the personality he aspires to and has every right to ask to be respected. We feel, of course, the need to communicate our reactions and remarks, but not to anybody and not in any way. Here is a small example: You would better say to somebody: ”I do not feel at ease when you talk that loud “, than: ”You are very noisy”. Not to mention the remark: you drive me crazy when I hear you say that
The feedback must refer to something definite: to a behaviour that took place or to feelings generated by it. Impressions must be communicated to the person that is able to offer the feedback. Example: ”When you interrupted me, I felt frustrated, although you probably did not want this to happen.” Not: „I know the way you act, if I told you what I have suffered from you since we met, hell would have time to freeze!”
If a pupil, for example, was noisy during the class, when you want to make him change his behaviour, you do not tell him: today you acted as you usually do, don’t you realise that because of you I cannot keep my classes? You should tell him something like: I know you are full of energy, because you are a well-fed boy and you are loved by your parents who invest a lot in you, by loving you. I desperately need your help: you enjoy talking, which is a good thing. You should talk during the break a little more with X or Z, your classmates who are not very communicative persons. May be you become friends and you can talk even more. Or: your classmate X is as much talkative as you are, I noticed you are getting along well, it would be of great help to me if you suggested him not to call you during my class and to tell you those interesting things when you leave school together.
It manifests at the right moment
Feedback has a greater efficiency when it is offered a short while after the respective behaviour took place, but it has to be taken into consideration if the person is disposed to receive a feedback at that moment and in that place. For example: communicate to someone a discontent the next day, not several years after the respective event took place. Moreover, see if the relationship between you and the second person improves after this discussion, or you have just got warmed up and you start throwing stones up to it …
In the relationships with pupils, the right moment for making the remark is not after a paper has been presented. The pupil did his best in preparing his paper, his classmates listened to him attentively. Even if his paper was not exceptional, he must be encouraged: I know that if you had had more time at your disposal, you would have also added this and this, but for the moment it is good, very good, and I am sure that the next time you will surprise us with the resume, the problems, the composition exposed.
We all want to find out the impression we have left and we all wish to express our opinion of a message sent to us. And we do this, every time, but often only in our mind and not at the right moment. Feedback must be offered as close in time as possible to the occurrence of behaviour, not at a moment in which the receiver is not able to perceive it correctly. But those who sincerely want to help the sender also need to know certain things and to choose carefully the moment of communication and their words. For example, as much as you want to help the speaker, by informing him of your opinion, and as much as you want to be prompt, it is not proper to come close to him as soon as he came down from the platform and tell him that you did not like what he said, he was not at his best, he disappointed you, you did not expect this from him and other of the kind, each and all more friendly and brotherly.
It verifies perception
If there are things that are not understood or if there are doubts in what concerns the understanding of the message by the person receiving the feedback, the person transmitting it must ask his partner of conversation to reformulate the message. I did not understand much, you were not very clear, what you said is very complicated, are not recommended formulas. Without being fake, we may say the same thing in the following way: We probably did not pay enough attention; you meant that Could you resume your affirmation, it was difficult for me to understand; I would like to tell you what I understood and please confirm if it is correct; I thought that, of what you said resulted that where can the misunderstanding be? If things were as you described them, why would you say that?
The feedback should not be imposed, but offered. In other words, we should not beg for reactions (appreciation), but create a climate allowing sincere conversations. The request means the fact that the person feels the need to receive a feedback. If we want to offer a feedback, it is necessary for us to ask the respective person if he wants to hear it. It he does not want to hear it, we keep our opinions for ourselves, we shut our mouth! What you said is very interesting, I do not know if it should be useful to you if I added that if you had time I would explain is a formula by means of which we may start a conversation with somebody expecting an opinion.
Example – we should never act in the following way: I know that you are not interested in my person and that you do not care about my opinion, but I want you to know that I did not like what you said. And this is not only my opinion, there are many people that do not like what you do; It is suitable for you to say that, because but if you were I Avoid the formulas: You do not care but I tell you anyway!; Even if this goes in one ear and out the other, I tell you anyway that; I do not want to repent that I did not tell you, so I let you know that!
It should not be offered with the purpose of giving vent to your rage on the other. If you feel you should have told him the truth ”to his face”, you should ask yourself who do you want to help in fact: do you want to do him a favour or do you want to give vent to your rage on the other, as you did not have somebody to argue with and, finally, you found somebody forced by the situation to listen to you. Proving that you are benevolent should not be made by means of simply affirming I want to help you or I want what’s best for you. This should be understood. The participant in the course will be more receptive to the formula: I am glad that you are interested in this subject, I, myself, did a lot of thinking of something of the kind, we would rather talk more about it; Basically, you are right, but if we considered other possibilities it would be possible that we come to other conclusions
It has to be directed towards the behaviours the receiver may use. Reminding a person an unaccomplishment or a weakness shall lead to the respective person’s frustration and shall close the gates of a good communication. You may vainly require something extremely important from a person, if the respective person has nothing to do with the respective issue. We should not forget the saying: it is impossible to ask from where not even God dares to
It manifests directly
If you speak to an audience it is important for you to know what do the persons that were present in the room think, and not the persons that heard something from the street. Feedback must be received directly from the source, not indirectly, or by ricochet. We could not seriously take into consideration the impressions of an action we initiated by inquiring for, for example, what do people that did not participate in say. Feedback has to be clear and characteristic to the communication process and to the subject we are interested in. It is useless to find out only after the conference ended that people liked the way we were dressed or how they enjoyed themselves. It should include both the description of the behaviour under discussion, as well as the possible impact and consequences of the behaviour on the social group members. In a room with several participants in a course, do not ask how the lesson was, but formulate a sentence requiring full answers: would it have been necessary to lay stress on? Would you like to resume subject X the next time or do you think we talked about it enough? Avoid a question revealing that the way in which you proceeded had no alternative: Do you think that somebody else would have told you something different? The answer uttered or even thought is yes, of course, every person has a different way of presenting an idea or of solving a dilemma. You should never say: This was my way of doing it, if you did not like it, there is nothing I can do. You should avoid affirmations having as result the fact that no matter what you do or say, the participants in the course would not understand or would not change.
It represents receiver’s expectations
Not any reaction is constituted in a feedback, because as many addressees we have, as many reactions we get. Nobody is indifferent to us, but the opinions of people do not have the same authority either. For example, we are not happy about it if the conference room is left in the middle of the lecture by a young person eating seeds, but we would not declare with dissatisfaction that our theme “communication by mass media”, for example, would not have any audience and the proof was the reaction of the person that had just left. Feedback must be expressed so that it should define the needs of the receiver. 'The behaviours of communication help us understand the complexity of human communication and the need to learn to communicate.' Feedback is a dynamic process of interaction through interpersonal communication, reaction to feedback may be different, depending on the needs and the particularities of the receiver. Verbal and visual contact increase the emotional charge of the feedback: visual contact is used in transmitting the feedback. It is important for us to notice what happens to the expression in listener’s eyes, but this is not the only reaction we have to take into consideration. We were told about a case, out of the common, indeed, when an entire class of people did not move a finger during a lecture of an hour and their eyes were focused on the speaker. At the end of the lecture they applauded frenetically, encouraged by all classmates on their right and on their left. Only the part reserved to questions from the class did not come up to expectations, for the simple reason that the spectators that filled the room were brought from a school for deaf-and-dumb persons … Despite these, under normal situations, eyes communicate, they provide us a feedback and nevertheless they keep listener’s attention.
It expresses true feelings
Feedback must include the true feelings of the sender and of the receiver. Sincerity cannot live with the lie, as both are in antithesis, placing them together is nonsense. Hiding the true feelings, falsifying them, mixing the truth with the lie, telling only half of the truth, or telling the truth in a way that does not convince, but rather makes way to doubt, results in frustration, discourages, eliminates trust forever, turns into the opposite of the feedback. Years ago, when shows on the only television existing in our country were party and state monopoly, an editor, Tudor Vornicu, succeeded in being followed and loved. The explanation was very simple: he talked and acted naturally, he did not talk in a set language and he afforded moving on the screen, showing his hands, fixing the glasses on his nose, looking for his notices, even saying once that he mistook them…
b). Receiving feedback
Questions relating to the starting of the feedback are asked only for message clarification. We should know what we want and we should be ready for any kind of reaction. We say it again: in direct relationships with people a lot of delicacy is required, the delicacy we expect from the others.
Under no circumstances we should act so that our interlocutor should not be able to say anything, should get inhibited, should attenuate the communication or even should withdraw what he said before. We are not allowed to ask him questions that should make him feel guilty. For example, do not tell him: „If you were me, would you do better? You should speak if you think you are better!” And do not say to him: ”Do you think me that stupid that I do not realise what do you mean by these remarks”. The following attitude is not advisable either: ”Is this your idea or somebody else had you put me in the corner?” And, moreover: it is not only that we should not say such things, but also, we should not think of them either, if possible. But if we think of such things, it is advisable for us to abstain from uttering them. Never saying the last reply is the most wonderful thing in the relations between people. Because this would mean that the dialogue would cease and the relationship would freeze
- Do not start over again when you want to learn the impression left by the message sent. Avoid to explain or to justify your actions. Do not interrupt the person communicating you an impression just to say that: ”You did not understand me well, you probably did not hear when I said that and that, if you had been attentive you would have heard me saying that and that, but you were thinking somewhere else …”
- Thank you, thanks, understood, it is all right, I think you are right, I will think of what you have told me are the most adequate answers when receiving a feedback. But far from transmitting by these simple words the impression that the person talking was the only person listening. Do not say a thank you meaning, all right, all right, you talked only to say something, do not worry, I already forgot what you said, actually I was not even paying attention, it went in one ear and out of the other…
c. useful feedback
A feedback, in order to become really useful, needs to have the following characteristics:
- It should make proof of a mutual trust between the interlocutors. This implies the existence of respect as the starting point. In no case a conversation is allowed before having removed any trace of contempt (if it existed, of course). The person communicating a message wants to be sure that the interlocutor is of good faith, if he liked it, the answer is sincere and it does not represent a way of flattering the other, and if it did not like the message, it is necessary to establish the belief that the refusal is based on definite elements.
- Feedback must be received as a mutual experience and not as an opinion. And so much less as a negative reply, no matter how critical the content may be. The person replying (offering feedback) has the obligation to convince that he understood the meaning, he appropriated the message at the level of reason, but he did not agree with it, and his reply is the result of an experience or of a thorough meditation.
- It should be based on the careful listening, especially by the sender, who, this time is the addressee. It is, of course, very difficult to be patient and to listen after spending all your energy in sending a message. You have hardly breathed a sigh of relief after finishing your work, you are free as a bird, and there is somebody to lay you a trap by commenting upon the details. And yet, we talked in order to communicate, and only now it is necessary to pay special attention to it in order to hear its echo.
- The behaviour of the sender should help the receiver talk. So, we did not accomplish our job after having finished the course, the show, the speech or the simple remark. But only after having obtained the reactions and after having considered them, giving the interlocutor the right to say exactly what he thought or felt we may consider it accomplished. In order to do that, the interlocutor has to be encouraged from the beginning, even if he does not have exercise in speaking and he is not able to express clearly what he wants. He needs to have his communication channelled, to be asked helping questions. For example, we should ask him if he did not like what we said or the way we talked. We may ask him if he agrees with the entire affirmation or only with a part of it. We may ask for explanations if the affirmation bothered him due to the context or to its absolute truth.
Feedback takes into consideration the needs of the sender as well as those of the receiver. A positive feedback is generally well received by the receiver if it is a real feedback.
An efficient feedback, as a form of message, may be observed frequently enough in the communication of any person preoccupied with sending a message. A teacher, a social worker or a clergyman may supply positive or negative feedback in order to: influence the behaviour, give an advice, guide, educate and inform, evaluate and motivate. The sender requiring the feedback must know how to receive it and how to use it for the purpose of the proposed goal. It is not enough to receive the answer to a telegram, it is necessary to be able to use the information within this answer.
Feedback is, from the point of view of the Romanian language vocabulary, a neologism, it is a word borrowed from cybernetics. It is 'the reaction or the reactions that we get from our listeners and the effort to adapt ourselves to the perceived reactions. Feedback supplies us with information regarding the way in which we will send the message in the future, it helps us to fit ourselves continuously in this process.'
Only the people showing a real interest in the persons around them, Vera F. Birkenbihl writes, shall find the path of the authentic dialogue. Only those that have a benevolent attitude, showing receptiveness are capable of communicating efficiently, and under no circumstances, those that fight to impose the others their own will. An efficient feedback must continuously keep the relation with the interlocutor. This intact relation must be correctly kept open and without disturbing, it has to be always activated up to the limit of insistence. Feedback is suggested, triggered and offensive, without being aggressive. Feedback is an invitation to interaction by communication and to increasing and deepening the relationships. It is expressed by means of verbal language as well as by other means characteristic to communication.
The sender must be cautious, optimistic, without falling into naivety. It is essential for him to be ready at any moment to get into contact with a negative feedback There is no reason to be upset, others too were in trouble, it will happen again to him. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care, but we should know that people don’t react like to an order referring to what we like or don’t like. Still, the observations must be expected with an open mind, welcomed with understanding and wisdom. Anything can be finally useful. This is the feedback born from the positive criticism. This kind of observations may eventually turn into useful information. The speaker must appreciate the fact that the person bringing a positive appreciation about him is making an effort, which he offers for free and in a disinterested way. Certainly, we would like him to keep the appreciation for himself, but is it fair such a desire from our behalf, don’t we need an echo and a response to our cry? Obviously we do. When we get a negative feedback it is best to wait sufficiently to calm down the emotional state. Thus, we obtain a detachment necessary to the objectivity. The positive criticism is a typical exercise of interpersonal communication. The target of the negative feedback is helping the criticized person to realize the negative effects of his behaviour and changing it by developing the feeling of guilt.
It is the key in pedagogy, in encouraging his student or his own children. Positive feedback is aiming to the confirmation of the achievements. It contributes to the satisfaction in work in order to motivate both the group leader and the head of an action and the members of the addressee staff. It helps the group members to understand why their efforts are important. It has a large area of presentation: from a simple informal yes to the discovery of exceptional talents.
Anyone can do special things if he receives adequate doses of positive feedback. The feedback represents the response reaction, which the receiver has towards the message from the sender. It is rather the inverse connection, the reply, maybe, more correctly, the echo, the action that settles the development of the communication process and guarantees, in its own way, the final efficiency of communication. It is a way of helping someone to understand the effects of a certain message (action, attitude, behaviour) produces upon the person to which that message has been addressed.
The feedback has been defined as a mass of information circling from the receiver to the sender. The most certain but the most unwilling response has the following aspects: the receiver tells us, in a way or another, that he doesn’t care about us- sleeps, yawn, and leaves. If he doesn’t see us, meaning that we are not face to face and we communicate through a technical channel, the human receiver switches the radio button, changes the TV channel, throws the newspaper or simply turns the page.
In the specialized literature the term of significant feedback also occurs. This one has the following aspects:
-interpretation of the message
-understanding the message
-describing the nature and the range of the action accomplished by the receiver
The three dimensions mentioned above find themselves in a functional conjunction with the stages of the other mechanism, in a process of continuity. The extent to which the imminent action becomes a present action is given by the aim of the feedback: ”the facility of control or the contribution to maintaining the stability of the transfer actions – communication.”1 The appreciation of communication, considered by Halloran, a means of personal expression and social relation, or, generally an instrument of the social change2 shows the difficulties we meet when we want to emphasize the subjective factor in communication. Within this process, after Group VIII: Information Transfer (communication), feedback confronts the following models:
e). Feedback phases:
a) the proportions of the transfer;
b) the urgency of accomplishing the communicational transfer;
c) the existing disturbance in the system, related to the respective message;
d) the lack of training or the ability of establishing the way of transfer;
e) the lack of necessary education for the interpretation of the transferred information;
f). Feedback techniques
The paraphrase is the method by which you transmit the message to someone in your own
words. For example, in the next phrase we have a quotation. Asked when he
thinks the Romanians will be able to travel in the west countries without visa,
the Prime Minister answered: “The Minister of Foreign Affairs has drawn up a
plan which includes our actions of persuading the European countries as
concerns the desire of
It is impossible to accomplish a real communication if, first of all, the subjects of discussion were not established. In other words, you can’t speak unless you know what you want to say…And it is not recommended to express ourselves in this way unless we want to communicate nothing: “ Today’s meeting is not what most of you expect, I am not saying all of you, but the most part, and we will not be able to discuss all of your needs. Of course, we could discuss them, but we couldn’t solve them, you know the saying that tells the theory goes easy, the practice kills you…We wanted from the beginning to draw up a work agenda, as a matter of fact, it is not me who wanted this, the principal proposed it, but we realized there are too many problems you confront with and we thought it was best to listen to you, no one knows your problems better than you do. We are living hard, special times, the troubles don’t end, the dollar raises from one day to another…”And so on.
We would gain more time if we were patient to straight out as concerns the interlocutor’s sayings. About what he says, especially what he wanted to say. Eminescu, approaching an ancient thought, was drawing our attention that it is not the same thing if two persons are saying the same thing… We would get rid of a lot of troubles if, before answering, we raised the question: did I understand well, I would like to repeat what I understood, could I? Or, even better, I would be delighted if you told me once more what you said, to be certain that I understood well.
It is recommended that we ask the interlocutor to repeat what he said or ask him to explain an aspect that seemed uncertain to us. This fact, not only does not bother him, as embarrassing as it looked from our behalf to ask for an explanation, but also convinces the interlocutor that we paid attention and we are interested in what he says, that we would like to find out more details or explanations. From our personal didactic experience or related to other public manifestations I can say that it’ no grater joy than being asked for explanations or being asked questions at the ending of your exposition. When a listener asks for bibliography or asks when and where he can listen to you, the choice of profession you made brought already the greatest satisfactions. It is recommended that we never forget: The truth is not what A said, but what B heard.1
360 degrees Feedback
It is a method practiced especially in the large companies. It is related to the evaluation of the performances by a double way communication and which proposes to find out the employees’ opinions. The intention is that the evaluation made by the superiors and the auto-evaluation should be included through the communication channels, but also the evaluation made by the employees, customers and collaborators. This feedback focuses more on the competence of behaviour than on the net professional performance. It operates by:
surveys of opinion among the employees
systems of suggestions made to the employees
employees’ propositions ended with bonuses (something like our inventions and innovations)
hotlines and cable TV networks. According to a survey quoted by Gary
Johns, 90 % of large the companies in the
You could say:
I would like to explain it to me once again.
I’m not sure I understood.
I would like to know more about it.
I think it is worth talking even more about it
I would rather to keep the x subject for later, and now you tell me something about the y subject.
You pointed out well by saying that.
I did not hear many times such opinions.
You can formulate the restrains in this way:
Could I read somewhere similar opinions to?
Don’t you think you could resume the subject another time, bringing more examples?
Perhaps I did not understand all the arguments but I could not sustain your sayings.
I also will read about it, but honestly I could use some supplementary explanations.
I’m not specialized in this, but I was not convinced by your affirmations.
Didn’t you have anything else to tell us?
I regret that I did not know what the discussion was about, I wouldn’t have come
I thought I would get more after such a meeting.
You are not right, despite your efforts.
I’ve heard stories like that.
This opinion is 20-30 years old.
First you read, and then you talk.
I can talk the way you talk.
Honestly, I kind of lost my time.
This opinion should be said by an old man (or a young man).
It is easy to just talk…
Students can be encouraged like this:
It is good, but you can do better.
A little more effort and you can get exceptional results.
I, myself hardly understood this subject, but now I’m glad to know it.
After you do this thing, maybe we’ll help together…
When you finish the job, you’ll feel very free.
I don’t think you’ll feel better if you give up now.
Remember you once said that you could not do it, but you finally made it.
You’d encourage a lot your brother if he knew you finished your job.
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