I got to participate in an “Ask the Experts” segment today, along CBS’ Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen and CBS’ Financial and Business Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis. These segments are a lot of fun and we take questions submitted by viewers. There never seems to be enough time to get all of the valuable information in, no matter how hard we try.
I was able to field some questions about how to effectively provide constructive criticism to a colleague, along with how to manage the divorce of your parents when you are an adult.
The first question I was asked related to a teacher’s desire to provide some feedback to a coworker about performance. She was unclear about how to offer up criticism that is constructive so that her coworker won’t feel attacked or get too defensive. Below are some ideas regarding how to provide this kind of criticism and, hopefully, have your colleague really hear you.
Firstly, it’s important to stop and think about why you want to give the feedback. If you care about the coworker and think that your opinion will hep them improve in his/her job performance, and you think that he/she will will hear it well, then, all means, provide some feedback. Think about how it will be received, and much of how it is heard is based on how it is presented.
Constructive feedback or criticism must be information specific, issue-focused and based on observation. The feedback can be positive: praise on a job well done, or negative: pointing out an area that needs improvement.
There are 4 key areas to consider:
- Content: Start by highlighting the topic or issue for which you are providing feeedback, with specifics. Start with “I”.
- Manner: This is how you present the information. Be direct in your message. Be sincere and avoid giving mixed signals. Sincerity lets the other person know that you care about them and how they do. It also lets the other person know you respect them. Also, avoid using but in your sentences. Get the “but” out…it kind of negates anything positive you’ve said. Try to use “and” instead. Express concern regarding the situation, which implies that what your are relaying is important. Give the feedback in person! Don’t interpret the actions you observe, just provide fact-based observations.
- Timing: It’s important to give feedback in “real” time, as close to the incident observed as possible. If you see that the teacher mishandled a behavioral problem in the classroom, you want to provide feedback as soon as reasonable. You have to be ready to provide all the information, and don’t want to wait too long, as the importance may get diminished.
- Frequency: Sometimes, you may need to provide the same message repeatedly. If you notice that your previous feedback was heard and followed, provide a positive follow up. Check in to see how the other person is doing with your feedback and offer clarification.
Constructive criticism/feedback is aimed to be just that: constructive. It isn’t aimed to hurt anyone or create conflict. If presented the “right” or most effective way, hopefully, only good things can come out of it.
I was also asked about “grandparent” divorce. This is when you are an adult, and your parents decide to get divorced after many years of marriage. This can certainly cause a lot of confusion, concern and sadness, but in a different way than when you were a young child.
Here are some pointers on this topic.
Parents getting divorced at any age is going to be difficult, so I don’t think anyone should expect to be unfazed. Feelings of sadness, confusion and anger are very common. As an adult child, you may want to try to help them “fix” it, when, in fact it is the best decision for them to split. Aside from being your parents, they are individuals with wants, needs and frustrations. As hard as it is to put aside your own judgments, it’s important to see your parents as the individuals that they are (no matter how difficult it is). We can assume that your parents did not come to this decision lightly. As opposed to when you were a child, as an adult, you have better skills to reach out to friends and get support. As a child, your parents try to “make it okay”, now it’s up to you. Being an adult child of divorce may cause you to feel like a child again. Just as a child needs to know, it’s important to remember that this is not because of you: you didn’t cause it nor can you prevent it.
Allow yourself time to grieve. It’s tough to think about all the things that will never be the same again. Your parents are going to be much more open with you about what is happening, forgetting that you are their child and not their friend, in a way that may not feel comfortable. Things to remember:
- Avoid talking about the divorce with either parents. If one or the other of your parents begins to talk to you too much about the other, or you feel pressured to pick sides, put a stop to it. Validate your parent’s feeling while standing up for you own feelings.
- Nurture your own marriage. Watching your parents divorce may stir up unresolved emotions regarding marriage and the model you watched growing up. This may be an opportunity to have open and honest conversations with your partners about any fears and concerns you have about “growing old” together. Just because your parents are splitting up does not mean that you will as well.
- Let go of expectations: Things will be difficult and challenging for a while. Situations may be strained. Cut everyone some slack. It will all shake out in a positive way in the end. Who knows, the situation could actually be better in the end for everyone!
What are your thoughts on providing feedback to peers?Have you experienced the separation or divorce of your parents as an adult? What was your experience?
Below is the clip from today’s show.