Feedback for the Future

My friend and colleague, Dino Watt, recently wrote an excellent blog about the difference between feedback and criticism. In it, he mentioned that feedback focuses on outcomes and the future, builds strengths, inspires change, and communicates that the future looks bright.

Criticism, on the other hand, focuses on what we don’t want rather than what we do want. It harps on the past rather than clarifying the future.  It shines a light on weaknesses instead of strengths. “It inspires self-doubt,” says Dino, “and feedback inspires improvement. It says ‘the ship has sunk’ instead of ‘we can turn this ship around!’”

I really like this distinction in Courageous Conversations because many of the situations at work that require a Courageous Conversation are fueled by unmet expectations which are ripe for criticism. Learning how to recognize the negative results of criticism and reframing it to feedback is a powerful leadership tool and one that is worth not only learning ourselves but also teaching to our team members.

This week, consider this distinction and discuss with your team the differences.  Invite your team to give feedback that focuses on getting better outcomes, building a positive future, inspiring improvement, highlighting strengths, and communicating an optimism about the future.

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.””
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about feedback and criticism! What is the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? Join the conversation by commenting below…

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