Why You Shouldn’t Rush Honest Feedback

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Time is everything these days, and we're under more pressure than ever to respond to any question or stimulus as quickly as possible. Whether it's a tweet, a news development, or a question from your boss, the rush to get your opinion out there first is undeniable. It may not be the best way to operate, though, especially if you want to know what people really think.

Cognitive scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, have just released a study into how timing changes how honest our responses are. It turns out that when study participants rushed into giving an answer that involved an opinion, they tended to default to whatever was most socially acceptable or pleasing to say. The thinking has long been that a quick answer is closest to what we actually feel because it has less time to be filtered by personal considerations. Instead, the researchers show here that giving respondents time and space to examine their thoughts and options will result in the most honest feedback.

These results are especially interesting when considering workplaces that hire contrarians. A team that allows for a variety of inputs and opinions can, with the right guidance, come up with truly original work — but only if the oddballs and skeptics are allowed to follow their instincts and say what does or doesn't work for them. Managers too can learn to offer some breathing room when it comes to evaluations and discussions. Instituting workplace cultures that empower real honesty can only help everyone in the end.