Feedback in communication

The importance of feedback cannot be overemphasized and needs no special elucidation. Feedback is the yardstick which measures the effectiveness of communication and is used for evaluation review and to amend the message in the light of response. Efficient workers have reliable feedback and they succeed in their effective communication.

The “Glossary of Training Terms” defines Feedback as: “The process by which information about the results of an action is communicated to the source of the action. It is argued for example, that learning takes place either through the informational characteristic or the knowledge of result, or through a combination of health”.

Characteristics of feedback
i. Intention: Effective feedback is directed towards improving work performance and making the worker a more valuable asset. It is not a personal attack. Feedback is directed towards aspect of the job.

ii. Specificity: Be specific rather than saying things like “you always” or “you never”. Vague criticism causes resentment.

iii. Description: Effective feedback can also be characterized as descriptive rather than evaluative. It tells the receivers what he or she has done in objective terms, rather than presenting a value judgment.

iv. Usefulness: Effective feedback is information that the receiver can use to improve performance. If it is not something the receiver can correct, it is not worth mentioning.

v. Timeliness: There are considerations in timing feedback properly. As a rule, the more immediate the feedback, the better. This way the receiver has a better chance of knowing what the sender is talking about and can take corrective action.

vi. Clarity: Effective feedback must be clearly understood by the recipient. A good way of checking this is to ask the recipient to restate the major points of discussion.

vii. Validity: In order, for feedback, to be effective, it must be reliable and valid.

viii. Readiness: In order, for feedback, to be effective, the receiver must be ready to receive. When feedback is imposed upon the receiver it is much less effective.

Feedback should be a continuous process as the audience and communicators are neither always the same persons, nor they are interacting in the same situation. The extension agent shall take steps to analyze the responses of the audience, which may be positive, negative or no response. If there has been no response or negative response to a message, the extension agent shall find out reasons for the same. If it pertains to research, the problem should be referred as feedback information to research, to find out solutions for the same.

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