Do you know how amazing you are?
Do you recognize your brilliance?
Did you actually hear it when you got that fantastic feedback?
It was the second day of the workshop. The group dynamic was working well. There was that intimacy that comes with this type of inner work. It was time to tell our stories.
We each had to stand up and give a 7 minute presentation. We had been building up to this over the last few sessions, we were well prepared. The minute she stood up, it was clear that she was uncomfortable. She shuffled a few sheets of paper in her hand and began to clear her throat. As she looked out into the audience, she didn’t quite catch anyone’s eyes. In that moment, it looked like she would rather be anywhere else in the world.
The truth is that what she had to say was fascinating, her story was great but her delivery was awful. She fidgeted, fretted and frowned throughout the whole agonizing 7 minutes. The rest of the group were shifting in their seats and completely distracted from her story by her discomfort.
Despite this, she had a sweetness and vulnerability that reflected her dedication and humility. It was fascinating to experience. Then it was time for feedback. The facilitator took a deep breath; he seemed confused as to where to start. There were clearly two ways this could go.
We all know that we need to give positive feedback first. We need to hone in on what works well and there is always something that works well. Then we can go on to suggest options for growth and development.
Have you noticed how few people actually say, this really didn’t work and here’s how you can do it better? How we have replaced ‘criticism’ with ‘constructive feedback’ and ‘developmental suggestions’?
I am a great fan of saying it straight. I believe that we need to be courageous and give and receive feedback that helps us grow. I don’t believe in being overly politically correct. Just say it as it is.
However, there is one really important difference between feedback that helps us grow and develop and feedback that can shut us down and make us feel completely dispirited.
Often it’s down to the difference between two simple words.
Let’s try it.
“Your story was really interesting, you have some great material but you really need to work on your presence as you tell it.”
“Your story was lovely, very interesting and I have some suggestions as to how you can be more present as you tell it.”
What’s happening here? We replaced ‘but’ with ‘and’. What a difference!
When you use ‘and’, it is a statement of inclusion. “You are amazing and here’s how you can grow.”
When we use ‘but’, it’s as if the positive feedback is not important and the focus needs to be on the parts that did not work.
It’s subtle but huge!
This is not just the case with telling stories. It’s the same in any situation where you need to give feedback. To your client, your child or you partner, when you use the ‘and’ it expands the experience and leaves the listener with a sense of potential and positivity.
When we get stuck in the ‘but’, we can’t even hear about what went well. Think about it, last time someone gave you feedback, could you hear it?© Copyright 2012 Lisa Bloom