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3 ways to train your brain with feedback

Feedback is not perceived as fun with most employees still somewhat afraid of feedback and performance review. A recent research article investigated why people may be frightened of feedback and found Neuroscience as having the answers.

Since the beginning of time our brains have had to scan the environment for potential threats and then respond accordingly with fight or flight. Early on the trigger that set off the threat response may have been a predator, a snake, lion or tiger but nowadays the trigger is more likely to be associated with social interaction. Yet our brain still responds in the same way, with anxiety and fear.

These states are not ideal for someone receiving feedback. So we have compiled a handy list of ways in which we can help people to lose their fear of feedback.

  • Feedback that is relevant and meaningful

According to Columbia University neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner cited at the NeuroLeadership Summit in Boston that ‘people who receive feedback apply it only about 30% of the time. If the person receiving the feedback doesn’t feel comfortable, this can cause the feedback to ultimately be unproductive.’ Feedback should be based on observations that are relevant and helpful to the person’s job, so that they can apply the feedback to what they’re doing.

  • Feedback when needed

Adults learn best when they are caught in action. That is why feedback is better right away as opposed to three months after an event. Relying on memory is faulty as we have a tendency to fill in the gaps and change vital details. For feedback to be productive it must be frequent. This also helps turn performance reviews into an ongoing conversation.

  • Positive

Positive feedback stimulates the reward centres in the brain which in turn equates to better learning and better employees. Even negative feedback can be given in a constructive, helpful way, by focusing only on the specific behaviour and its effect on the individual giving the feedback.  Intention is important: if you approach giving feedback with a good intention, to help the person do better, then the feedback will come out in a positive way.