Feedback – The Gift


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We all receive and give feedback continuously. We may not realize it but we do give feedback when our food has not arrived on time, we don’t like the way we are being treated or the service we receive. This may mostly be negative or constructive feedback. There are times when we give positive feedback but on very occasions. Feedback can be directed to unkown person – cab driver, the waiter in the restaurant, Laundry man, paper boy etc.

If you think of it we don’t necessarily pay attention to how we give feedback. Since we give and receive feedback so many times a day, we would do a world of difference if we could observe and improve on the way we give feedback especially to those who really matter.

I was introduced to the concept of OFNR (Observe, Feel, Need, and Request) during a training session and thought it was an interesting concept. The way it works is that whenever you want to give feedback you can frame your conversation without blaming the other person. Typically when we give feedback we tend to blame the other person, which is entirely incorrect.

The basic tenets of feedback is that it should:

  1. Never be personal, the feedback should be on the behavior or the action and not about the person.
  2. We should not blame the person.
  3. Ask if you can give feedback
  4. Give feedback 1 to 1 and not in public

The OFNR concepts work very well and is very effective at work and in relationships. The execution of OFNR is very simple.

Feedback covers the four aspects Observe, Feel, Need and Request. Assume you want to give feedback to someone. You should simply start by asking if you can give feedback, feedback should be given 1 to 1.

Once you and the person are in the room, you can introduce the topic by saying you want to give feedback.

Start with Observe – Let the person know your observation’s, these are facts, the persons actions, data points etc, then inform the person that as a result of this action how this has made you feel. Eg if there is someone who has been coming to office late, let them know the number of time they have been coming late, is there a patter etc. Then you can inform that, how this makes you feel that they don’t enjoy the work, they are not interested to maintain decorum, it hurt your or made you feel angry.

The next is letting the other person know your need – tell them that you need them to come on time as the decorum needs to be maintained or this can ensure that they don’t miss out important points discussed in the team meeting etc. You need them be more accountable and report to work on time etc.

Lastly make a request – Request the person to adhere to work timelines and work ethics.

Many a difficult conversations can be overcome by using the simple OFNR concept. It appears to be overtly simply but if the message can be got across to the other person than why not. During the conversation it is likely that you may get into a discussion where the person receiving feedback may want to justify, clarify or refute the observations, showing empathy and understanding the other person’s point of view is very helpful during such conversations. What is important in this feedback style is that while you do give feedback to the person you don’t blame them rather you let them know your feeling, needs and wants. Hence one has be willing to be vulnerable while having such conversations.

For those receiving a feedback it is a gift, so welcome it with open arms.

Power Play – Scales


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By Power Play I am not referring to a sporting terminology rather I am referring to positions people play or take in any relationship.

Knowingly or unknowingly many of us are emotional victims of power play. Let me explain the concept by simply putting it like this -if two or more people are in a relationship and if there is one or more persons dictating the terms of the relationship then this is what is called Power Play in relationship.

Power play can exists at work place in personal life and even among spouses married to each other for years. Many a relationship can be destroyed if the power play are skewed or the possibility is that one of the participant in the relationship can be emotionally challenged.

Power play exists in all types of relationship for those dating, when we meet, where we meet for how long, place of meeting etc is decided by the one more in power or in control. As children the power rests with the parents, they make the decisions for the kids early on in life. At school, teachers are in control of what the students should do.

As per Google one of the meanings of Power Play is tactics exhibiting or intended to increase a person’s power or influence. Sometimes this concentration Power can corrode the relationship as the recipient may be hurting and may not have the courage or heart to speak up for the fear of losing the other. Ultimately the relationship turns sour and is stale and no longer relevant to the parties in the relationship.

At times people may continue to be in the relationship oblivious to the power play, each one adopts the position of either being offensive or submissive. Over a period of time what would have been acceptable by the person being submissive is no longer acceptable as they may no longer be enjoying this position and they want to be more in control. The ones in control, may go about their decisions and way of life without understanding the other persons need and decision making in the relationship.

For people in power it is rare that they would like to control a relationship to the extent that they would want to hurt others in the relationship. Sometimes this power position arises becomes the other persons are in awe of this person and looks up to them or at times they may not be willing to take the decision or risks that the other person is willing to take. Hence by default these individuals are put in the power play position by others hence leaving no choice this person assumes this power position.

It’s important to bring about balance of this power play especially at work and in a relationship. While for some it may seem natural to be in control of the conversation or have a power position in a relationship.  This may be as a result of their personality which is shaped up by the experiences they have had in life. Similarly those lesser in power may be in that position because of their unique experiences.

The fact is that Power Play exists and it’s not right of wrong to be in either of the pedestal of high or low in power. It’s how to balance this power play, maintain the dignity and respect in a relationship is important. For others in lower end of the power position it’s important to recognize that they should be open and should communicate to those in power of how they are they feeling and if they want to be more in power or change the current power scale. For those in control or power – It simply means, have I considered what the other person is feeling, wanting and needed.

The more we communicate the more issues of power play their possible extremes can be avoided. In areas where these do exits open dialogue with the other can help create balance in the relationship.