Definition: Feedback is the response of the receiver of the communication, to the message. It plays a vital role as it makes communication effective. Also, without proper feedback, communication is considered incomplete. With feedback, a person can express his/her feelings and perceptions to another individual regarding their behaviour and work style.
In the process of communication, the receiver not only absorbs the message passively but also provides a response to it. This is what we call feedback. More importantly, it helps the sender to understand how effective the message was.
Suppose with the feedback of the receiver, the sender realizes that the recipients misinterpreted the message, then the sender can make efforts to refine the message and send it again.
Next, the response can be verbal or non-verbal. It is the last step of communication. Further, it tends to develop an understanding between the parties concerned. This helps them in reaching a decision, which is beneficial to both parties.
Communication refers to the interchange of information or ideas between sender and recipient. In addition, communication is said to be effective only when the recipient interprets the message in the way in which the sender has intended.
But, how do a sender will know what the recipient has interpreted from the message? In this way, feedback acts as a tool that enables the sender to know whether the recipient has understood the message in the same terms.
For the recipient, it is essential that he gets the message correctly and revert to the source about the subject matter. The response should be about what they have understood. Such a response from the recipient is feedback.
Providing proper feedback is considered an art that improves the sender’s relationships with others. It ensures a two-way process.
Characteristics of Effective Feedback
Effective feedback is always specific and not general.
- Focuses on behaviour:
We must always refer to the actions and behaviour of the person instead of what type of person we perceive he/she could be.
- Considers the needs of the feedback receiver:
Feedback can prove destructive when it serves personal needs only and does not recognize the needs of the person who receives it. Feedback should be provided with an intention to help and not to hurt others.
It is useful when the recipient has framed the kind of questions that the people who are observing can respond to.
- Meant for sharing of information:
When we share information we let the other person decide on the basis of their goals, needs and preferences. But, when we advise people on something to them what to do. Also, to a certain extent, we take away their freedom to make decisions based on their own judgement.
Immediate feedback on any matter is the most useful one. There are many possible emotional reactions involved in the reception and use of feedback.
- Amount of information the receiver can use:
When we provide more information to the receiver of the feedback than it can be used actually, then we are not actually helping them but satisfying our own needs.
Essentials of Feedback
There must be two parties, i.e. sender and receiver.
- Acknowledgement and response of the recipient.
- Improvement in the message quality.
- Two dimensions – giving and receiving feedback.
- Formative Feedback: It is likely to modify the thinking or behaviour of the people for the purpose of learning.
- Summative Feedback: It analyses in what way people accomplish a task or attain results for the purpose of grading.
- Positive Feedback: An affirmative statement on a person’s past behaviour so as to encourage such behaviour.
- Negative Feedback: This is a corrective statement on a person’s previous behaviour so as to stop the repetition of such behaviour.
- Positive Feedforward: An affirmative statement on a person’s future behaviour, so that person could work and improve his performance in future.
- Negative Feedforward: A corrective statement on a person’s future behaviour so that the person could stop repeating a certain behaviour in future.
- Communication is of no use without feedback.
- It facilitates the evaluation of the effectiveness of the message.
- Makes communication purposeful
- Keeps up the communication process
- The basis for checking the effectiveness of the communication.
- Maintains an open communication climate.
- The basis for future planning as it helps in deciding the next step that a person can take to achieve the set goal.
Points to Remember
- In the case of face-to-face communication, feedback is faster in comparison to written communication.
- It is always directed towards the sender of the message, which completes the communication cycle.
- Feedback could rely upon the exact interpretation of the message sent or misinterpretation of the message sent.
- Non-verbal feedback can be in the form of smiles, sighs, nods, and so forth. Whereas verbal feedback takes the form of a reaction to the sender’s ideas with questions, comments or replies through message or mail.
A word from Business Jargons
All in all, for effective communication, mere sending of the message to the receiver is not enough, because feedback from the recipient is equally important. Feedback is nothing but the reply given by the recipient to the source, i.e. sender. It can be in the form of a smile, spoken comment, written message or mail, desired action, and so on. Sometimes, lack of response is also in a sense also constitutes feedback.