Feedback is critical for everyone. However, many interpret feedback as negative criticism. Reviewing the SMCR model shows that, when we receive information from others, we often think/worry/wonder whether the sender giving us feedback is judging us or our ideas. When we work in teams, discussing issues of feedback and criticism and of how team members might focus on providing feedback and avoiding criticism is important.
Feedback is returning output of information based upon input received by another. On the one hand, constructive feedback can be provided to others on our team when we (the receiver) have listened to the information being presented and accurately received the message from the sender. On the other hand, criticism is the act of making judgments or evaluations. Most people do not differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism, but there is a big difference. With destructive criticism, the sender is often attempting to undermine the person or the idea in order to receive personal gain (e.g., even if people will not accept my idea, they will not be accepting his/her idea, either).
Providing feedback to a team member who has presented an idea can be a valuable exercise. However, the sender, who receives the feedback, must listen to the feedback being presented rather than wonder whether the sender is judging the person or the idea.
Constructive criticism criticizes the proposed idea. It is not a judgment of the total idea or of the person but feedback on what the receiver sees as weaknesses of the idea. The person providing the constructive criticism is doing so in order to create the best product or come up with the best plan and is actually supporting the sender in wanting to make the sender’s idea even better. Although we cannot know a person’s intent, a person providing constructive criticism is viewed as someone who is supportive of the team process and of each member of the team.
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