Giving and Receiving Feedback

Describing the benefits of giving and receiving feedback for personal development…

Just before exploring the benefits of feedback, it may be helpful first, to set the scene about personal development.

Personal development and growth seems to come from a combination of life experiences, personal endeavour and achievement, including the essential interactions with others. It is also enabled and enhanced through consciously increasing ones own self-awareness of own thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviours; based both on the past and what we might intend for the future. By growing our self-awareness we gain greater insight in where we might need to focus our personal development efforts.

A main way to increase self-awareness is from receiving constructive feedback from others on how our behaviours are perceived by them and what our behaviours may imply about ourselves in terms of motivation or attitude, values and beliefs. Sometimes it is important to understand, through feedback, how we impact others through our behaviour, what we say and how we say it. In this way, feedback on ourselves gives us the opportunity to consider whether we want to use the information towards our own personal growth.

It could be that by collecting feedback from a number of different people, a picture can be built about oneself through the shared views of others. This is like a consensus view of ones own attributes or weaknesses, of which previously we may not have been aware.

The benefits of giving and receiving feedback are considered within the context of the giver and receiver of the feedback. It means that the section on benefits of giving feedback is considered in terms of benefits to the giver of the feedback. Alternatively the section on benefits of receiving feedback is considered in terms of benefits to the receiver of the feedback.

The Benefits of Giving Feedback

The process of giving “good” feedback relies upon commitment in the person giving it to be fully present when observing the person who is to receive the feedback. This can serve to grow the listener’s own practise and skills in listening, understanding and empathising with the observed person. It is therefore essential for someone training to be a counsellor to practise and develop their effectiveness at observing and giving feedback. It helps to grow themselves as people.

Giving feedback to colleagues in the workplace has the benefit of establishing the leader within the team. It can engender respect and openness upon which trust between team members who work together can be built.

Regardless of the situation, if feedback is accompanied with “unconditional positive regard” (source: First Steps in Counselling, Ursula O’Farrell,1999), then the value of the feedback is further enhanced. It means that there is an inherent respect for the person’s worth as a person and his welfare. In this way the feedback given becomes open honest and constructive with the best interests f the person receiving it. We can think of it s a gift from on person to another.

In a helping relationship, giving feedback has the benefit of enabling the speaker to grow their own skills of listening, observation and practise in giving constructive feedback.

The Benefits of Receiving Feedback…

The benefits of receiving feedback, for the person receiving  it relates to the opportunity to understand and consider another viewpoint on themselves and decide if they want to act on it. The feedback can provide another perspective which helps the receiver understand themselves better through others and can help them to further develop.

In the workplace, many employers encourage the use of regular team feedback sessions in a one-to-one scenario, where individuals give and receive feedback to and from each other. The individuals can be peers or can be team member and their manager. Another approach which can be used either instead of, or in addition to the one-to-one method, is 360 degree, anonymous feedback questionnaires. This is where the person requiring the feedback, on their own leadership behaviours, for example, can request a survey from a number of respondents including managers peers and own staff. This can be a powerful way of gathering compelling feedback on own strengths and weakness, giving tangible direction and insights for the person’s own future personal development.

Steven Covey in his book “The Seven Habits of Successful People” talks about the need to “sharpen the saw” to work on ones own continuous improvement. While the context for this is very much about achievement in the workplace, Covey talks about the importance of pro-actively seeking feedback from others on ones own behaviours and performance as a basis for continuous improvement.

We can extend this idea to personal development, whether that is related to development of leadership, physical, intellectual, social, emotional or spiritual aspects and attributes of ourselves. It implies that by actively seeking out and considering feedback from others, we are able to derive great benefit from increasing self-awareness and a sense of direction for where we can look to grow.

From our experience so far on the Counselling Skills course we have seen and learned for ourselves and from each other how feedback during the triad sessions can help us to further understand ourselves at a deeper level. This can form a basis, upon which to make decisions about our own future personal development. The benefits here are the receipt of direction and insight. Even something as simple as one carefully chosen word reflected back to the speaker, by the listener, has a powerful impact; like a mirror from where the speaker can more clearly see themselves and where they might choose to endeavour to grow.


You might be interested in checking out one of our sister sites: Eastleigh Counselling or Addiction Helpline.