Sunday, 28 August 2011

Why give feedback?

There's a lot written about giving feedback and how to give it and this week's workshop, Telling It Like It Is, will help you enormously understand the ins and outs of feedback, but to me what's really important and often not thought about enough, is why you're giving feedback in the first place.

It might feel easier to think about why you're giving Positive feedback - because everyone likes a compliment - but I'm not sure it is.

The other day I was on the set of the really fun film my son is appearing in (Papadopoulos & Sons) and the lead actor, Stephen Dillane, came over to have a chat. I'd just heard him acting a man losing his temper and had been really scared by that 'fake' outburst of anger and wanted to tell him, but, at the same time a little voice was going through my head asking me why I wanted to tell him...

Was it because I wanted to share my sensation of being scared by 'his' temper with him and how impressed I was that he could put that on so easily?
Was it because I could never act and wanted to have a conversation with him about what it's like acting?
Was it because I wanted to boost his ego for the rest of the day - or at least a second?
Was it because I felt awkward in front of someone so good at what he does and felt a compliment was the best way in?
Was it because I wanted him to like me?

Gosh, it's complicated isn't it?

Or maybe it isn't complicated.

Maybe with positive feedback, it's OK to have mixed reasons for wanting to give it, because hopefully the compliment given to the other person does make them feel better, especially if it was honest and true, but with negative feedback it's crucial you know why you're giving it.

Sometimes when my children are wearing clothes I don't think suit them, for example, why would I give them negative feedback and tell them I don't like their shirt, especially if they're just about to go out? What outcome do I want?

Because it gets it off my chest (wrong reason)
Because it might make them go and get changed into something 'nicer' (wrong reason)
Because it's important to me what they look like ('get over it, Nina')
Because I'm a controlling mum (definitely wrong reason)
Because I think others will like/respect them more if they're wearing something 'better' (wrong reason - how do I know what their friends will like)
Because I want to change them (impossible and definitely wrong reason)

Of course, I mean it well, but...

Negative feedback is a tool that has to be used carefully. It's key to find out what outcome you want before you launch into it. If it's a situation you want to change then it's essential to use it, but if you just want to change someone else... forget it.

You can't change me through feedback, but any constructive feedback you want to throw my way, I'd be delighted.

See you there,
PS This week's workshop always has wonderful feedback from those who come along. What more can I tell you?


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