The Goal of Feedback Is ...

Coaching Conversations

Mar 19 2022 • 11 mins

There are so many views on feedback and how people should perceive feedback. I saw a post that created different viewpoints from feedback as a gift to other viewpoints where people felt feedback was not a gift. I think the one thing that we often miss when it comes to feedback is that feedback is a choice to provide, and it is also a choice to accept.

First, let us talk about the value of providing feedback. I go back over 38 years ago to my manager Martha Sheffield at IBM during a college internship where I was ready to quit my job cause I was really lost in terms of what I was doing and she said something to me that I'll never forget that really illustrated the value of feedback: She said “why do you think I provide you this feedback? I provide you this feedback because I am willing to take my time to tell you things that most people will never take the time to tell you so you have an opportunity to improve, and that choice will always be yours”. after she had shared that with me, I asked her what she called that, and she said coaching. That was the day I decided to go into coaching in the workplace as a 21-year-old college student and I owe her a debt of gratitude for that decision.

When providing feedback language is critical. Leaders must possess language and conversational skills that allow people to accept feedback willingly, openly, and professionally. Look at the two statements below and ask yourself which set of feedback would you be more willing to listen to number one or #2:

1.       John, I need to provide you some constructive feedback in the areas of...

2.       John, we have an awesome opportunity to raise your game in a specific area that will allow you to reach your goals specific to...

The second example illustrates tying feedback to what motivates a person not merely what we think motivates a person. When we use the words constructive or feedback it typically will prompt emotional reaction. Replace the words feedback with the word’s opportunity, perspective, or insight.

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