Feedback is the process by which the effect of an action is received by the issuer of that action, so that it can modify subsequent actions.
The above is a generic definition, applicable in any context. For example, when you drive a vehicle, your driving behavior has an effect on the vehicle’s displacement.
You receive visual feedback on the displacement, adjusting your actions so that the vehicle stays on the right track. You also receive speed information from the dashboard, allowing you to accelerate or decelerate, to maintain proper speed.
In both cases, through feedback you can adjust your driving behavior to the circumstances of each moment.
Biological processes work in a similar way. Many of them are regulated by feedback systems, according to which the product of a process is used to regulate the production of that product.
Feedback is inherent to all types of interaction, providing information to carry out possible corrective action.
Feedback in Interpersonal Communication
When one person communicates with another, they need to know if their message has been captured. You can do this thanks to feedback.
Feedback, in the field of interpersonal communication, is the response of the receiver that informs the sender about how the message has been received.
The communication process consists of the exchange of information and ideas from one person to another. Effective communication occurs only if the receiver accurately understands the information or idea that the sender wanted to convey
Feedback is necessary to know if the recipient of the message has understood it in the same terms as the sender. Therefore, it allows evaluating the effectiveness of communication.
If the receiver, who can be a person or a group, has not interpreted the message in a way consistent with the sender’s objective, the sender can restate it with the appropriate nuances and corrections.
Feedback is the receiver’s return message, in response to the sender’s message.
Objectives of Feedback in Interpersonal Communication
Feedback has two objectives:
- Interpret the recipient’s reactions on how he is perceiving and capturing the message.
- Adjust the message according to the sender’s reactions to facilitate its correct transmission.
For the communication process to be completed , the sender must capture the receiver’s reaction to your message.
The receiver, in order to successfully transfer the message, should not terminate the communication until he is sure, through the receiver’s response, that his message has been captured and understood correctly.
At this point, it is interesting to remember the principle of communication that states that what is true is what the receiver understands, not what the sender says.
So, if you consider that the recipient of your message has not correctly grasped it, think that you are responsible for interpreting the message. So you have to try to get feedback; In this way, you can redound or correct the message so that it is captured by your interlocutor.
Obtain and Provide Feedback
As the sender of a message, you have the responsibility to ensure that it is understood correctly. For this you must be able to obtain feedback; that is, to know what effect it has caused on the receiver.
Feedback is obtained mainly through the non-verbal communication channel.
When talking to another person, we observe his face, we cross it intermittently to check, through his expressions, whether or not he understands the message, whether he agrees or disagrees with the idea that we transmit to him.
You can discover it by the reaction of the interlocutor.
Observe people’s body language and facial expressions, searching for subtle clues to message understanding and agreement.
But to find out if the receiver has really understood what you meant, you can ask him openly.
Another possibility is to encourage him to ask questions. Or ask him, elegantly, to post the message in his own words. Another alternative is to summarize your message, together with the receiver; This will give you a good overview of the degree to which your message has been conveyed.
The communication process is dynamic and continuous. A person is a sender and a receiver simultaneously. I am the sender of a message, but also the receiver of the other’s responses to my message; both verbal and non-verbal.
To contribute to the effectiveness of the communication process, you can provide feedback.
So ask for clarification if you think you don’t understand something. Ask when you need more information or specify what you already have. Reframe what you have understood; this is an excellent means of facilitating feedback.