When Giving Feedback, Be Careful Of Your Timing
January 8, 2021
Last year, before the Covid lockdown happened, as a family, we traveled to the city of Coimbatore in Southern India, where my elder son was giving a live music concert.
The Concert went well, and my son got a lot of appreciation from the knowledgeable audience. I was a proud parent.
There was one small niggling problem, though. I had the disadvantage of listening to my son practice intently for the Concert over the previous week and I knew what the perfect rendition of some of the musical elements of the Concert sounded like. I felt there were a few mistakes my son had committed that may or may not have been apparent to the audience, but I certainly noticed them.
After the event organizers felicitated my son he came over to me. ” How did the concert go?” he asked me.
Unconsciously I responded, ” The Concert was very nice. You did very well, BUT, you made a few mistakes; how come ?”
Even today, I cringe when I think of the look on my son’s face when I said what I said. His face fell. He had come out of an exciting 2-hour musical performance in front of a live audience. Members of the audience trained in the art appreciated his performance, and he was expecting an appreciation from me.
Instead of being graceful and generous, I was a boorish father quibbling about the small errors I noticed in his performance.
There may have been some errors in retrospect, and my intention was certainly not to put my son down. But, instead of appreciating the effort, I got into feedback mode.
My intention to get into a feedback mode may have been well-intentioned, but my TIMING was all wrong. Constructive feedback is best given and taken when the feedback giver and the feedback taker are both in a calm and composed state.
That was not the case that evening in Coimbatore. My son had just come out of Concert high while I was in a judgemental mode.
This episode taught me a valuable lesson that I keep reminding myself about.
As a Parent, Spouse, Sibling, Friend, Supervisor, Friend, Colleague, there are many situations where we come across someone making a small error or committing a minor mistake. We become all judgemental and hypercritical, wanting to correct the other person in a hurry.
“Mom, I did not do my Maths exam well.” The child says. ” I told you to prepare well, do your practice papers blah, blah, blah,” the mother may say. The child has already switched off.
“Oops, I seem to have backed the car into the pole behind.” Your spouse laments. ” How many times have I told you to be careful when backing up and parking,” You say instinctively.
” Boss, I just got a confirmation that the client has decided to go with our competitor,” your team member says. ” I told you, You should have been careful about quoting lower commercials,” You respond, ignoring that your team member is already feeling bad for having lost the order.
If you want to provide feedback to anyone and if your genuine intention is for the person to take the feedback and improve, be conscious of the TIMING.
Give it when you are not in a judgmental mode and when the other person is in a receptive mode.