Encouraging Success

You Suck!  You’re terrible!  That was a lousy performance!

If you have every watched American Idol, ‘XYZ country’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance – you have probably heard these comments at some time.

Not too encouraging, but then they are from the ‘judges’ and are not there to necessarily coach the talent.  Ok, and you also hear them say nice things.

So what makes good and effective feedback?speakertraining

I love feedback and always ask for written feedback after I give presentations.  It helps me to improve my work so that each audience gets the best experience and the best opportunity to learn.

Now, having said that I ‘love’ feedback doesn’t make it easy to read or hear the feedback when it is negative. I have given presentations where 98% of feedback is very positive and then there is a 2% that didn’t like it.  For whatever reason, I or my material did not connect with them. Not a bad percentage, and yet it’s amazing how that 2% can hurt – no matter how one puts it in perspective.

The perspective isfeedback is just as much about the person giving the feedback as it is about the person receiving it, positive and negative.

In learning and improving presentation and speaking skills, there is a great need for feedback.  I liken it to a sporting performance, where it helps to have an outsider or coach watch you and see what you are doing well and what you are doing poorly.

Most importantly, a good coach looks for what can be improved, rather than attacking what is being done ‘wrong’?  And there is always room for improvement, isn’t there?

I read once that as kids we receive four times more negative feedback than we do positive?  I don’t know the validity of the statistic, and perhaps you can think about your own childhood – were you encouraged or where you always told what you were doing wrong?

People are often even their own worst supporters and forget to acknowledge or celebrate what they have done well or achieved.  You may know people that put themselves down all the time!  Not very encouraging.

This is so important for beginner speakers who lack confidence.  Encouragement and finding positive points to celebrate will help someone to keep going.  Applaud someone for having a go!

In “Quantum Learning” Bobbi de Porter, gives scientific insight into why celebration and positive encouragement are important.

Positive encouragement speaks to our ‘right brain’ and can provide balance to the left brain which can be more logical, analytical, ‘get on with the job’ type thinking.

Stimulating the right brain with positive ‘talk’ promotes brain power which can boost levels of success.  Success creates more positive emotions which then leads to a positive upward cycle of success.  Success breeds Success

I originally came from the school of ‘constructive criticism’ – it’s okay to tell someone what they did wrong because it will help them improve.  Sometimes I even asked for help – “Tell me what I’m doing wrong,” when I was getting the results I wanted.

The only problem is that it puts the focus on the problem.  If you get what you focus on, focusing on the problem creates MORE of the problem.

Giving Feedback – Tell them how to do it right!

Come from an encouraging point of view – what can you say that will encourage the person to keep improving? Look for something that they did well and then let them know what they can improve.

This can be so much easier to hear than to hear what was WRONG – yes, with capital letters, because it can stand out and hurt when phrased that way.

Directing attention and focus to the right or better way to do it, will help the person focus on what they want to achieve with the skill.  Success breeds success.

Receiving feedback – be open!

Remove your ego from the situation, and see or hear the feedback for what it is.

Is there some validity in the feedback?  Yes – what can you do to change or improve?

No – if you disagree completely with the feedback (perhaps they come from a different background, or didn’t understand what you were aiming to achieve) – then thank them for their perspective, and go merrily on your way.

Give others and yourself a pat on the back  

Use encouragement and effective feedback not only to others but yourself.  We all need a pat on the back, and if no-one is there to give you one, then give it to yourself.  Maybe even do a little victory dance.  Affirm your own success on a daily basis.

Have you experienced the effects of negative or positive feedback?  What do you think works best?