How to handle feedback in everyday (judge) life – Introduction

Ivan Petkovic
from Hamburg, Germany

Feedback. A very popular buzzword not only in the Judge Program but in the professional working world as well. Almost all organizations (and people inside them) want feedback to be happening, but most of them do not know how it is properly given. Also, what does properly mean? Let’s start from the anti-pattern or bad example. Quite often feedback is given for selfish reasons alone: “If you will change from this to that, I will be happy.” You might be asking yourself, what is wrong with that? My goal is that by the end of this article, you will be able to answer this question yourself.

How can we make feedback a more tangible topic? There are many useful classifications of feedback (here is one example), but for the purpose of this article, I want to present a metaphor to you that sums up my philosophy behind feedback pretty well.

A gift.

Why would you give somebody a gift? I sometimes do because it is expected from me, for example at that random cousin’s wedding I have to go to. But most of the time gifts are given because I want to make the other person happy and show them my appreciation, or a sign of care. Does this also apply to you? How do you feel about receiving a gift?

Sometimes a gift I receive is something I really wanted, and it usually comes from people who know me best or who have put lots of effort into the gift. But also sometimes it is something I do not really need, or even dislike. Nonetheless, I have never refused a gift, always thanked the person and appreciated the thought. If you vastly disagree with this, please contact me as I would be very interested in your thoughts!

And that is it. This is how to also deal with feedback. If you understand this metaphor, you will give or receive feedback perfectly fine. Congratulations, you can stop reading!

Are you still here? Do you want more details? Were you expecting some analytical dissection of feedback? Then please keep reading and let us jump into the rabbit hole together. It is a deep one.

We have to look at two different scenarios, like with a gift:

  • Giving feedback
  • Receiving feedback

Let us first take a look at how to give feedback.

We get an urge to give feedback because of certain unfulfilled needs we got from interacting with somebody. This is a very vague sentence, but it makes sense when you think about it. In other words, communicating or working with someone created an unmet need for us. This need does not have to come from within us, it might be simply expected from us when we are performing in a certain role. For example, we NEED to write a review when we are certifying somebody, or we NEED to write a review when we mentor (or shadow) a person during an event. And we want to meet this need, which is perfectly fine. The trick (and the devil) lies in the detail.

I would like to introduce you to a model I like to use, which has the goal to communicate your needs to another person, explaining the background of your feedback, and can also come with a suggestion or a request. We will look at the model in detail in the next parts of this article, but here is a small teaser.

Step 1: Deliver the feedback from the first-person perspective (I observed) and not hidden behind a group or organization (we observed).

Step 2: Understand the position of the person you are giving feedback too. This might change the feedback, or render it completely unnecessary.

Step 3: Communicate your need in order to make the other person understand why you are giving the feedback.

Step 4: Formulate a behavioral request if still needed. If possible, do so in a suggesting instead of a demanding way that also is not individual- but situation-related.

This time we spent more time talking about the mindset of the feedback (being a given or received gift) and introduced a practical model for giving the feedback. Next time we will go into more details of this model.

Thank you for reading, share your thoughts, questions and situations in the comments. Until next time and stay tuned for part 2 of the article series!


Ivan Petkovic

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