I like to correct other people’s mistakes, don’t you? It feels good to feel useful helping others and maybe just a little bit proud of how clever we are. But what do you do when the roles are reversed and you are the one being corrected? Can you take it? In other words, can you get feedback as good as you give it? Rationally we know that feedback is a good thing and helps us to grow and improve performance.
Maybe the way that we give advice could be more useful, effective and less threatening if it were offered more compassionately? For example, do you become irritated waiting for latecomers to join an online conference? Should you say something to the latecomers? But what, and how? You’re feeling irritated, but need to focus on and be sensitive to the other people’s feelings.
Knowing how to give ‘compassionate feedback’ is perhaps the most valuable ability that I’ve gained as a speaking skills trainer over the years. Using this particular technique has helped me to improve my skills as a presenter, coach and consultant. And it is what helps me to serve my clients to improve their speaking and presentation skills.
Compassionate feedback inside and outside of work relations
Whether in our family, with our friends and our work colleagues, helping others requires communication skills. As a parent, a best friend or a mentor we sometimes feel obligated to speak up when things go wrong so that they go better the next time. A manager might speak to a work team about improving sales, improving product quality, improving client relations and so on.
Author and CEO Arianna Huffington wrote an article about compassionate feedback in the workplace. Her ideas, however, are useful to consider while preparing to give any speech presentation. Before giving the presentation, ask someone for compassionate feedback or offer it yourself. Also, during a presentation we can show compassion while we give advice to our audience.
Here are some highlights from her article:
- Do not overwhelm someone with too much feedback at once. Say only the few things a person could find useful at that moment. Not limiting your feedback might even demotivate the person you are trying to help.
- Something that is important to you may not at that particular moment be important for someone else to hear. Consider their experience and knowledge level. Gauge your feedback accordingly.
- Before you give feedback there needs to be a level of trust between you. Trust is a core value in teamwork. So, ask yourself if the culture in your workplace supports the two-way trust needed in order for compassion to exist.
- Avoid giving feedback via Email which could be misunderstood. Face to face, live feedback is best. With body language and facial expressions, and hearing the tone of voice, it makes it easier to interpret someone’s feelings and understanding.
- To become a better giver of feedback, practice the art of listening. Have a conversation once a day where you mostly listen. Think about questions to ask and then restrain yourself from interrupting so you can just listen to the answer.
Speaking in public also requires compassion
To be effective in any communication, we often talk about being yourself, being authentic and coming across to your audience as believable. In other words, your audience needs to feel that they can trust you – to feel your compassion. Before writing your speech consider the needs and interests of your audience. Certainly, while we’re talking in a two-way discussion, we need to show compassion for our audience. A good speaker ‘connects’ with the audience so that there is a flow of emotion and thoughts that circles back and around between the speaker and the audience. Feeling connected to your audience, your words, voice and body expression will show that you care about them.
Speaking Arts International is here to help
Let the coaches at Speaking Arts International help you to prepare or review your upcoming presentation. We’ll give you the ‘compassionate feedback’ you will use and appreciate. Also, we can offer a private course or a group workshop so you can learn how to give compassionate feedback to your colleagues and friends.