How Appetizing Is Your Feedback? (How to Motivate with Positive Communication)
Recently, I was watching a rerun of the successful television
show, The Cosby Show. The patriarch of this professional
family (He is a doctor and his wife is a lawyer.) played by Bill
Cosby, was just told by his college-bound daughter that the
boyfriend she brought home to meet him was really her
fiancé. He was disappointed with the news. Disappointed
not in the young man or what he did (he was a “maintenance
engineer”), but in the way he was told about this
Mr. Cosby said that the way he was told was like taking a
sizzling, delicious, robust T-bone steak and serving it on a
garbage can lid. It’s not too appetizing. You know the steak
is delicious, but would we really want to eat it? It’s not too
I ask you, when you give feedback, do you make it
appetizing for the receiver of the feedback? Or do you make
your “steak” indigestible? We can be giving great feedback
everyday and, unless we make it appetizing so others will
digest it, our feedback will not acted upon.
The following are ten techniques for making your feedback
1. Prep for a Great Meal
Just as you would prep for a great meal, you should prepare
to give feedback. Mentally go over the following:
* Is the feedback important?
* What do I want to accomplish with the feedback?
* Who are the persons I will be giving the feedback to?
* How will they take my feedback? How can I make my
feedback more appetizing for them?
* How have they taken feedback in the past?
* Is there someone better I can enlist to “serve” the
Just as you would expect to produce a great meal, mentally
expect to have a great feedback session. Take time to
visualize the positive interaction and results by giving the
feedback. Know that you will improve the lives of those you
give feedback to and how you will accomplish your goals.
Note: Remember, all feedback, with the goal of improving
another individual or situation, is positive. It’s when we are
not receiving or giving constant feedback that situations
turn negative due to misunderstandings.
2. Timing Is All Important for a Great Meal
Make sure you are giving the feedback when it is needed.
Giving feedback too long after there is need will dilute the
“hunger” for the feedback. Giving feedback too early when
there is no “hunger” for the feedback will allow your meal,
your feedback, to go to waste and not have the impact on
behavior that you need.
3. Quality Ingredients Are the Start of a Great Meal
Be consistent every time you give feedback so that the
person receiving the feedback will know what to expect. Be
fair in your feedback. Also focus your feedback on actions
observed, not the person. Or, as I say, “point to point, not
person to person.” Use “I” statements.
* Be direct in your feedback. Just like you wouldn’t want
to wait forever to get to the main course, you wouldn’t
want to wait forever for someone to tell you why they are
giving you feedback.
* Set positive expectations so they want to eat. Instead of
saying the following:
“Mike, come by my office today at 3 p.m. so that I can give
you some “constructive criticism.” Mike is thinking he had
rather be having a root canal.
Say the following:
“Mike, come by office at 3 p.m. today. I have some ideas
on how to make your job easier (or some other benefit)
and would value your feedback.”
Remember, in order for the receiver of the feedback to be
hungry for the information, apply the “What’s In It For Me”
(WIIFM) technique. Ask yourself, “What is the benefit to
the receiver of my feedback?”
* Master Our Utensils. Master our utensils, the words we
use, when serving the meal. For example, if you noticed
someone unfocused in their conversation, you might say the
“Sue, slow down! You are rambling too much.”
Instead say the following:
“Sue, you sure have a lot on your mind. Let’s
concentrate on top the three points you want to
Use positive words to create a great meal.
4. Ask for Feedback on the Meal
Encourage the other person to give you feedback on your
feedback. This may clear up any misunderstandings. Also,
it shows that you value the other person’s opinion.
5. End the Meal on a Positive Note
Appreciate their time, their manners, and overall demeanor to
the feedback. Let them know that you appreciate the efforts
they are making. Also tell them that you expect that there
will be a positive outcome from the feedback session. Also,
let them know that you are there to help them succeed.
Apply these techniques at work, home or in the community
to ensure that your feedback is more appetizing to others.
Ed Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and success
coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress
management, customer service, and team building. You can
e-mail him at mailto:email@example.com, or call him at
(757) 427-7032. Go to his web site,
http://www.thesykesgrp.com, and signup for the newsletter,
OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and
Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional."
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