113: MMM - On Feedback, Part One: Give Them an A!

Why Feedback?

I always ask for feedback on my coaching, speaking and trainings. Partly because I want to be sure that what I'm doing is working and I want to know ways I can get better - but also because I give so much darn feedback it only feels right to offer people a chance to give some to me.

 And one of the things I hear again and again is that I have a way of giving candid feedback in a loving way. In a way that people appreciate and hear and can learn from. It's one of the highest compliments that I have received in my work, and I appreciate it greatly - not only because it makes me an effective coach, but because that's how I want to do business. I want to help people be better speakers, but I also want to hold people up and celebrate them. I love people. And I want them to FEEL good, as well as do good work.  And there was a time when I wondered if you could do both. That's an old paradigm of thinking - and I'm so glad to de-bunk it. You can do both. In fact, I think all things work best when you can do both.

 Not that there aren't times when you're giving a hard message that isn't welcome; that happens a lot. It's part of the job. And I'm often hired to do exactly that (give the tough messages). But who cares? - and does it even matter? - if people feel deflated and defeated after the message? It doesn't.

 So - as I start this series on Feedback for the next few Fridays, I wanted to share with you 4 key ideas that are essential in giving and receiving feedback in a way that makes us better, all the way around: 

On Feedback, Part One: Giving an A

Last year I had the distinct privilege of going to see Ben Zander speak. [I wrote about it here.] He was, truly, one of my favorite speakers I've seen live, EVER. That is saying something. If you've seen his TED talk, you know what I'm talking about. He is brilliant and creative and joyous. I felt wow'd by his insight, and also his presence.

But this isn't really about Ben Zander. It IS about something Ben Zander articulated, which captures an essential element to giving feedback.

Ben talked about, as a teacher and guide for his students, he starts by giving them an A. They don't have to prove themselves to him before he says, "you're great." They don't have to impress him. They don't have to do anything but show up and know they are already awesome in his eyes.

Because if you're a good coach - and you give helpful and honest feedback, and you invest in the relationship - and you believe that people are capable of learning and that your insight can help [and this person decides to work for it] - then, indeed, it will become "A" worthy.

Giving speakers an A for the sheer courage of it allows the performer to let go, get creative, access their true abilities, cooperate, and! - and this is no small thing! - enjoy the experience, which is essential in speaking. (AFter all, if the speaker is having fun so will the audience.)

 Sometimes we have to believe it FOR them before they can believe it for themselves. #feedback @ThisMovedMe

You can be kind - and honest

This is something I've always done. I worried early on in my career that I wasn't being tough enough, that my desire to please and make sure these lovely people understood that I loved them would get in the way of me also telling them the truth.

But here's what I've learned and what Ben Zander was talking about:

I do actually love them. You need to love the precious people who have so bravely stood up in front of you and who, with the power of your love - and that "A" - are capable of big things.

I am NOT talking about giving a fake feedback sandwich (positive, negative, positive, though truly, if you've gotta give somebody a big bite of negative, it doesn't hurt to remind them what they do well, too). I am talking about starting with love. Starting with the A.

Believing people are capable of doing great things, and that the next phase in 'better' is in there - and is simply up to you to show it to them and help them see it themselves. What better way to do that than to let them know that YOU believe it? Sometimes, we have to believe it FOR them before they can believe it themselves.

Start with an A.

#Speakers: When giving feedback, start with an A! @BenjaminZander @ThisMovedMe

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