Feedback as an Opportunity
We all have the opportunity and privilege to provide feedback to family, friends, and colleagues as we try to spur one another towards making our little corners of the world better.
However, giving feedback is a very difficult process for most of us. It induces anxiety, creates friction, and sometimes even erodes the value in relationships. But it can potentially be an enriching, growth inducing process if done with intention, grace, compassion, and humility. It really depends on how we approach it.
An example to illustrate: “You can make this better”. This is such a simple statement but with so many layers. To break it down, let’s look at the possible variants when you choose to focus on different parts of the sentence.
YOU can make this better: This emphasizes responsibility and duty. Whoever “you” is in the specific context is responsible for taking action.
You CAN make this better: the focus is switched from the actor to their ability or perhaps willingness, (courage maybe?) to take action. Sometimes, we all need to be reminded
You can MAKE this better: attention moves to the action itself, the process, the duty care, and attention. Intentionality is critical to all growth and improvement although we are sometimes guilty of “waiting” or “hoping”
You can make THIS better: every now and then, we need to focus on the actual output. Sometimes, we get lost, we lose focus and could use reminders to stay the course and get our heads back in the game.
You can make this BETTER: not perfect, just better. Better speaks to possibilities, better speaks to what we can do to improve quality, to try to meet specific expectations. Perfect is a myth, a lie that encourages us to give up or hide. To give in to the inertia and fear
Choosing Your Message
So, the question to each of us is “Which one are you trying to say”? In thinking about this, we’re forced to be specific, knowing that each nuance leads to a very different kind of conversation, a different path towards growth for our audience.
Also, it might be worth spending some time thinking about which one you need to hear. Again, depending on your specific circumstance, you may find that one or more of these statements resonate.
In conclusion, better is available; better is possible. But there are a few different paths that get us there. We need to do the hard work of being thoughtful enough to understand the context and to be generous enough to speak the truth to areas of need.