Effective transcultural feedback results from commitment to our objective and to each other and pays attention to the relationship as well as the task. If the relationship is pragmatic and compartmentalized (sometimes called “lower context”) and communication tends to directness, we can place more of our attention on the task at hand. If the relationship is to avoid conflict, emphasize harmony, respect protocol, use intermediaries, give in privacy, and so forth.
The Gifts of Feedback is a set of ten categories or ways of giving feedback, developed by my colleague and friend Walt Hopkins and myself that balances the concern with task with the emphasis on relationship, so important to more tightly woven groups.
They are positioned as gifts because, although the meaning and practices of gift giving may differ from culture to culture, it normally involves respect, reciprocity, and a number of other relationship-building qualities that can be used to reframe feedback as a positive and respectful activity. Keep the receiver's possible reactions in mind and manage your expectations about the other person's response – remember that in some cultures gifts are opened immediately and talked about while thanking the giver, while in other cultures they are set aside for enjoyment in a private moment.
We have provided you with a gift of feedback each day for the last ten days in Practica posts. Feel free to respond with your own experiences of feedback – enrich us all.
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