Role of Feedback in Communication
Feedback is the final step in the communication process. As a small-business owner, you need feedback so that you can gauge whether your communication has been successful. Depending on the feedback you receive, you can clarify or make changes to the way you communicate. This is true in all forms of communication, whether face-to-face, by telephone, e-mail, or in correspondence. Obviously, with some communication forms, feedback will be more immediate than with other forms.
You probably don’t think about communication as a process in your day-to-day business, but it is. The players are the sender and the receiver. If you initiate the communication, you are the sender. The receiver can be one person or many to whom you are directing the communication. The components between the sender and receiver are encoding, medium of transmission, decoding and feedback. You are encoding when you send the communication. You choose a way to transmit or send. The receiver decodes the information to understand the communication and then sends you feedback.
With personal communication, such as talking to an employee, you can get immediate feedback so you know she understood your message. For example, if you ask her to write a press release about a new product and she nods her head, that’s one form of feedback indicating she understands. A draft of the press release the next day is another concrete feedback form. Silence and inaction are also feedback, possibly indicating she didn’t understand, even if she didn’t verbalize that. This allows you to clarify so that business can be properly conducted.
It’s important that you select your communication form based on what type of feedback you need. If you have an urgent business need, it is better to communicate verbally so that the feedback is immediate and you can immediately ask if clarification is necessary. If personal communication is not possible, telephone or real-time electronic communication is an alternative. Written communication such as letters, memos or even email should be reserved for communicating to several people or in less urgent situations. A follow-up telephone call or personal visit provides you added assurance of proper feedback.
There may be several reasons why message are not understood or you get inadequate feedback. It’s important that both senders and receivers understand these barriers so you can ask for clarification to both give and get proper feedback. Physical barriers often occur in business, necessitating long-distance communication methods without the benefit of seeing reactions. Language and cultural barriers also are common as businesses expand globally. Other barriers include distractions, stereotypes and even a lack of confidence that the other person may not want to convey. Ask for clarification, as a sender or receiver, to avoid costly business errors.