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The Gift of Feedback

The photo above is some “found art” at Brains on Fire, left over from a client project. Don’t you love it?

Last week, Geno and John and I were visiting with an very interesting potential client.

I love that part of my job, meeting new and interesting people.

As we shared a couple of stories to show how we think and as we explained our process, the CEO of this organization stopped us mid sentence and gave us some of the most direct and honest feedback I’ve ever received in a meeting.

It was clear and specific and well… sort of hard to hear. 

But it absolutely delighted me. Because what he pointed out  is something I’m certain will make us better at explaining ourselves the next go around.

I knew right away what we needed to DO.

As we continued to talk, they told us one of their core beliefs is something they try to practice daily.

 They believe that “feedback is a gift.”

Most of us would agree with that very simple leadership statement. But how many people really practice seeing feedback as a gift?

When you reframe feedback as a gift, suddenly you find it easy to be honest and truthful. You don’t feel the need to sugar coat or sandwich feedback between praise.

The purpose of giving someone feedback is not to make them feel better, but help them DO better.

Feedback is how we all grow. In fact, the more you know about a subject, the more critical feedback becomes. Deep down everyone wants to know the truth, no matter how hard it is to hear.

When I reflect on the qualities of the people I most enjoy working for and with, it’s absolutely the truth tellers. The people who tell it like it is with the intention of making things better.

 So here’s my challenge for you today.

Study how you give and take feedback all during the day.

Keep a little running list of the feedback you give and get. What makes some feedback better than others? How can you get better at both giving and listening and responding to feedback?

Or just take a few minutes and share your stories. Has feedback ever been an amazing gift to you? How has it made you DO better?

  • TheSheriW

    Fabulous!!! I love this post. Keep up the good work (there’s my feedback).
    And know how feedback was a LIFE-CHANGING gift to me:
    When I was 17, I interviewed for an office clerk position with a company where my aunt had worked for years. I had gained great experience already at such a young age by participating in our Office Co-op program at high school and had worked at one of the largest banks in our region. After interviewing for the job, they called me a few days later and told me they had filled the position and thanked me for my time. I was very disappointed. I asked my aunt about the interview (she had made it sound like I was a shoo-in for the job) and what went wrong. She told me that the business owner remarked to her that he thought I was quite qualified and didn’t feel that I would have a tough time learning the ropes of their business however, I wouldn’t look him in the eye. Hmmmmm? He was right. I was intimidated and that lack of confidence was glaringly obvious in the interview. I made it a point to begin practicing looking everyone in the eye when I spoke to them. It was uncomfortable for me at first, especially because I was a dorky, red-headed teen with little confidence but the more I practiced, the easier I got and the conversations became more relaxed and easy. I often look back on that pivotal moment and what an awkward child I was back then. Without a doubt, that feedback changed my life!

    • Robbin Phillips

      I love this story. Thank you so much for sharing. My daughter is looking for a “real job” right now and I am going to remind her of this great advice and feedback!