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What I Learnt about #feedback from the Yoga Sutra

Eastern thought has been my ‘go-to’ knowledge bank for handling various situations – both at work and personally. When thinking of feedback (something that we do everyday), I reached back to the Yoga Sutra and found some quick things to keep in mind when you are about to have a feedback discussion.

Stay in the Present :

The Yoga sutras begin with “Atha” (pronounced u-th-aa) which loosely translated means ‘Now’. But Sanskrit can’t be effectively translated into English without losing some of the deeper meaning. So, I will try to elaborate a little.

Atha’ Yoganusanam is the first sloka in the Yoga Sutra – here, Atha stands for ‘Now that we have prepared through life and other practices’. This could be applied in a feedback discussion by walking into the discussion having prepared yourself and also by preparing the other individual to receive it – either schedule a feedback discussion or if it is a quick feedback, ask for permission. This could bring readiness in the receiver’s mind and make her open to the discussion.

Stay with the Facts -

The Yoga Sutra talks of five varieties of thought patterns – of these five, the following three lead to ‘correct knowledge’ (read ‘facts’)        

  • Pratyaksha – Direct perception or cognition
  • Anumana – Inference, Deduction
  • Agamah – Testimony or Evidence

Simply put, Stay with the Facts. Try to set aside judgment and effects like ‘halo’ (looking for an image of yourself ) and ‘recency’ (being clouded by only latest incidents). Stating the facts also takes you closer to the understanding of the real problem.

Pause – Pause before a response yourself. This might help you listen deeply, reflect and frame your response before you speak. A pause allowed to the individual would also give them time to ask and answer questions.

And if you want to get better at it, focus on giving actionable suggestions and on practicing giving feedback!

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