Do you want some constructive feedback?

Er, … no thanks.

Why not?

Well it’s not feedback, and I’m not sure what you mean by constructive.

People often talk in terms of feedback when it isn’t really feedback. It’s just criticism. So do you want some constructive criticism is still no thanks.

The idea is that if you put constructive first, it softens the blow, makes it sound positive, like, Do you want a tasteless sandwich? No? Well how about a healthy tasteless sandwich then?

What is criticism?

Criticism is essentially saying someone did something poorly or wrong, you know better, and you can tell them what they did wrong.

That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do. But in that case, all you need to say is ‘Do you want me to tell you what you’re doing wrong?’ You don’t need to pretend it’s constructive or feedback.

What about constructive feedback?

The feedback I like isn’t constructive because it’s not judgmental. It’s not supposed to teach you directly. What it does do is feedback the other person’s experience of a shared event (for example a presentation). The recipient can then decide what to do with that information.

A video comes close to doing a good job of this. It’s not judgmental feedback and you can learn a lot from watching yourself perform. Did I really roll my eyes and stifle a yawn?

Receiving feedback like this is much easier than you might expect. As long as the giver is honest, there’s nothing to fight against, defend or explain. If that’s what they experienced, that’s it. It doesn’t mean that others experienced it in the same way, and it’s for you to decide what you do with it.

Feedback in this sense doesn’t allow for any suggestions or judgments. It’s given as ‘I’ statements about what the giver experienced. It doesn’t refer to non-shared experiences e.g. I saw a great example of what you did last week when…

Suggestions, criticisms, observations and comparisons are all fine if that’s what you want to do – but they’re not feedback.

When we’re scripting videos, it can be easy to become ‘teachery’ and to try and tell someone what you think they should do. But that’s not what we’re about. And that’s especially in true with videos like our one on Unconscious Bias.

Unconscious bias training has recently had mixed press. Some of this seems to be centred around training which is trying to tell people how they should behave what they should think and so on. I don’t think that’s ever really worked.

What we try to do is present information about what unconscious bias is, how it can affect decision making, and some of the ways organisation are trying to reduce biased decisions. You can see this for yourself in the full-length version of our video above.

Do we want any constructive feedback? Er, no thanks. But, if you’d like to, do let us know how you experienced it in the comments below the video and we will reply.