Validation or Education – Which feedback do you want?

We watched her struggle through her presentation, rambling on about the points she thought she should make, voicing thoughts and finding examples, yet not sold on anything herself. Her stream of consciousness speaking, evident by her inner-focus and demonstrated by her commitment to talking through her thoughts, gave her the chance to produce some poignant, insightful remarks. But she didn’t know this. She was still digging, still trying to clarify her message.

She sat down, crumpled in her chair, glad to be finished.

We applauded, knowing she needed support. Yet what we were all wondering about is, who was going to tell her how to pull these thoughts all together? How were we to offer the assistance she needed?

She knew she was struggling through the 3-5 minute sharing, and anything positive we would say she would recognize as patronizing. What she most wanted was a solution – clarity in how to arrive at her thoughts and then a method for sharing them.

“I like when you said ….” brought her out of her reverie. She focused on the “like” yet doubted the overall remark. She could tell the elephant was still in the room. She wanted someone to address it. She needed a way to clarify her own thoughts, and it wasn’t going to work by our simply “liking” isolated phrases and ideas, like her presentation was a Facebook page that needed a following. She needed a way to pull it all together. She needed education from us.

When we seek coaching or other forms of feedback, what are we looking for? Affirmation? Truth? No matter whether we are introvert or extrovert, we want to know how to improve yet also need someone to recognize what is working.

When her audience began giving her constructive feedback the speaker above sat up and took notice. She saw through the fog. This is what gave her renewed sense of self.

Feedback comes in both forms. Let’s be clear about what will help us grow and then turn to those willing to give it.

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On November 21st, 2011, posted in: clarity, extroverts, feedback, willingness by