119: MMM - On Feedback, Part Four: Honest and Helpful

When I'm giving feedback, the question that I'm most concerned about in my mind is whether it is both helpful AND honest. I don't pull punches, but I don't go for the jab.

How do I do that?

Aside from Starting with an A and Leggo'ing of my Ego and building Relationship... I make sure that what I'm saying is actually helpful.

It seems like an overly simple idea, and yet I can't tell you how many times I've heard people give UNhelpful feedback.

"That section of your talk isn't working."


"I don't think that is very funny"

Compare that to:

  • "That section of your talk isn't having the kind of impact I think it can. I think it has something to do with the pacing. Have you tried it going a little faster?" [How did it work? Let's give it a try!"] - and
  • "I have an idea for that joke... what do you think of this line instead?"

The first examples leave the speaker feeling defeated and doesn't show any way out. The second opens up the conversation, asks questions, and shows a possible solution.

On Feedback, Part One: Giving an A

This responsibility is mostly on the giver of feedback - but the receiver can do their part by digging into the comments of the giver and get really really curious.


What do you mean by that? Can you tell me more? Do you have any more examples of that from my talk? I was thinking about maybe trying this; what do you think? Why do you think that? What specifically did you see? Any thoughts on what I could do instead? 

It's up to BOTH of you not to settle for feedback that isn't helpful and dig deeper.

And if you can't make it helpful, it's not ready to be shared yet. And if you get feedback that isn't helpful - discard it. Or, perhaps you can work the problem together. "There's something about this part that isn't working... but I'm not sure what it is. How does that part feel for you?" - and then you try and wrestle with it together.

A big learning in my work as a coach was learning when NOT to give feedback, and timing it out so that it was feedback they could act on. You might see the end goal in your mind, which is 8 steps away - and if you gave all 8 of those steps now they would walk away with a big F-YOU running through their brain. But if you can map it out - and give them what they can handle as they can handle it, keeping the long game in mind (assuming you have that kind of time) - well, that is incredibly empowering for the speaker.

So -

  • Start with an A (Givers)
  • Leggo Your Ego (Givers and Receivers)
  • It's about Relationship (Givers and Receivers) - and
  • Make it Honest and Helpful (Givers and Receivers)

You can be kind - and honest

This is not just about creating better talks. This is about growing people who can share themselves with courage and authenticity - because THOSE people are the ones who can create a talk that will truly move this world of ours.

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