Introduction about feedback
Giving feedback to others often comes easy, however knowing what to do with feedback from others is not as easy. Busy surgical residents often receive volumes of feedback in the operating room, outpatient settings, and regarding their general performance within the residency. Several authors have discussed the importance of timeliness (REF) and delivery dialogue to providing feedback in the surgical educational literature (REF). Yet, often feedback is informally distributed without clear metrics or dialogue to help contextualize it. In “Thanks for the feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well” (REF Stone et al) the authors dissect how to succeed in a culture with constant feedback. They analyze the different types of feedback we receive and how to make sense of the content and delivery.
What is feedback?
Feedback is simply any information one receives about oneself, from experiences and other people.
What are types of feedback?
Feedback is far from uniform. Its delivery can be formal or informal, direct or implicit, blunt or baroque. The perception of feedback being delivered is obvious at times, whereas at other times it can be so subtly rendered as to be missed by the intended recipient. Feedback can be unfair or off base, it can be poorly timed, and is often poorly delivered. There are at least three different kinds of feedback: appreciation (I am grateful for what you did…), coaching (When you hold the needle driver do it this way…), and evaluation (Among your colleagues, here’s where you stand…). The latter is the strongest form of feedback. Evaluation aims to rate or rank against a set of standards, to align expectations and to inform decision making regarding promotions etc.
The role of the recipient in receiving Feedback
When feedback is delivered, it is often met with resistance or sometimes outright rejected. It doesn’t matter how much authority or power the benefactor of the feedback has; the receivers of the feedback are in control of what they do and do not let in, how they make sense of what they’re hearing, and whether they choose to make changes.
What to do with Feedback
The ability to receive and use feedback well is more of a skill than an inborn trait. Receiving feedback sits at the intersection of our drive to learn and our longing for acceptance. Receiving feedback well requires sorting and filtering—of learning how the other person sees things; of trying on ideas.
Why interpreting and using feedback can be challenging
Feedback is not well received when the giver and receiver interpret a given situation from differing perspectives. The difficulty with accepting feedback is often since the feedback provided is first “interpreted” or “filter” based on the feedback providers own life experiences, values, and assumptions. In short, people don’t offer their raw observations as feedback and then build an interpretation together with the receiver to provide context. It is said that all advice is autobiographical and is observed through the lens they view their own life.
How to provide better feedback?
How can we give better feedback? Ask yourself three questions: (1) What is my purpose in giving this feedback? Do I want to help this individual grow and improve? (2) Is the feedback clear and specific? (3) Finally, pause and ask, “What’s could make this feedback more effective?”
How to use feedback better?
- Recognize the type of feedback you are getting. When seeking out feedback, ask for the specific kind you would like to receive (appreciation, coaching or evaluation).
- Press “pause” on your reaction and obtain specifics regarding context to help understand both the accuracy of the feedback or any oversights or misunderstandings?
- Ask the person providing feedback as well as yourself – “what is the next step?” To use feedback to your advantage, ask about what you’ve been doing that hasn’t been working and what you should do differently in the future.
- Do not blanket canvas your review of any one aspect of your residency to every aspect of what you do.
- Reddy ST, Zegarek MH, Fromme HB, et al. Barriers and Facilitators to Effective Feedback: A Qualitative Analysis of Data From Multispecialty Resident Focus Groups. Journal of graduate medical education 2015;7(2):214-219
- Lyle B, Borgert AJ, Kallies KJ, Jarman BT. Do Attending Surgeons and Residents See Eye To Eye? An Evaluation of the Accreditation Council For Graduate Medical Education Milestones in General Surgery Residency. Journal of surgical education 2016;73(6):e54-e58
- Stone D, Heen S. Thanks for the feedback : the science and art of receiving feedback well (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood). New York, New York: Viking; 2014:348 pages