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Getting Minnesotans To Give You Feedback

Jerilyn, the East Coast Transplant Says:
Typically, Minnesotans haven’t read the definition of feedback in the dictionary:

feed·back                                                                                                                         noun

1.   A reaction or response to a particular process or activity: He got very little feedback about his speech.

2. Psychology.  Knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.  

Instead, they’re really familiar with the entries on conflict avoidance, emotional restraint  and talking behind others back (check out What Minnesotans Say Behind Your Back,” for more on this lovely stuff).  But help!  What happens when you really want - or need - feedback?  Are we left in the lurch, hoping to read body language and other subtle clues that pretty much go over our heads?!

Corey, the Minnesota Native Says...
We know we should give you feedback about problematic behavior, but we don’t want to offend you...or make you feel bad.  We need your help to make giving feedback easier for us.  Here’s some tips:

Tip 1:  Ask for it. Don’t wait for it.   At work, feedback is commonly given only as part of the annual performance review when managers are required to give. Getting feedback at the end of the year versus when the performance or behavior actually happened is a lot like closing the barn door after the cow has escaped.  It is too late!   Frequently ask us to give you feedback.  

Tip 2:  Make it a ground rule.  Ground rules are basic or governing principles of conduct that apply to everyone.  You are more likely to get feedback if everyone is expected to give it and are also held accountable for doing so.  

Tip 3:  Don’t ask for “feedback” ask for “suggestions.”   Another reason we don’t like to give feedback is because for us it feels like criticism.  Instead, ask for suggestions.  For example, “I want to make sure that I have enough examples in my presentation.  Do you have any suggestions for ways I can incorporate them?”  It is easier for us to share suggestions than  seen as being critical.

Tip 4:  Don’t get defensive when we give it . Not even the most candid Minnesotan will want to give you feedback if your response to feedback is “No I didn’t” or “I completely disagree with you.”  Defensiveness reinforces the expectation that feedback leads to conflict.   

Tip 5:  Thank us for our time and effort.  Giving feedback is hard.  Positive reinforcement of their efforts makes it more likely they will repeat their behavior.

Tip 6:  Report back to us.  When people give feedback, they expect to see changes.  Tell us how you are progressing. Showing us you are making changes sends a message that our feedback made an impact.  This increases the likelihood we will give you more feedback in the future.

Get even more tips and approaches to help you on this website. And, if you’re Minnesotan and recognize some Minnesota Nice in yourself, jump over to the Minnesotan’s Corner.  Also, check out our book, Minnesota Nice? A Transplant's Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Minnesota.

© Jerilyn Veldof and Corey Bonnema