All feedback is not equal

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Consider the three different types of feedback you can give and receive:

  • Appreciation: this is when you are noticing and recognizing when someone does something well, does it in a unique way, or even demonstrates something they hadn’t before
  • Evaluation: this is when you are ranking someone’s actions or results compared to others or compared to a set of standards
  • Coaching: this is when you are listening with curiosity, exploring reasons and motivations with thoughtful questions, and helping to guide someone to their own conclusions

Research shows that feedback which is evaluative in nature is actually counterproductive. It hinders learning and dampens motivation. Each of us sees reality in our own way, we have brains that are wired to grow where we are already strong, and the way we get to excellence is unique to us.

We humans do not do well when someone whose intentions are unclear tells us where we stand, how good we “really” are, and what we must do to fix ourselves. We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works.

If you want to help someone, try appreciation and coaching, not evaluation.

Comments welcome!

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