Doug Fleener's

The Day Makes the Year


The Gift of Feedback

Aug 10, 2023

Here is a chapter from my new book, The Day Makes the Year (Makes a Life) being released on September 12th

Whether in the workplace, within your social circles, or in personal relationships, sharing your experience and observations in the form of feedback can be a valuable gift to give someone. It can also be an unwanted gift. Most of the difference falls on you. 

Author and management expert Ken Blanchard says, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Just as breakfast is essential for nourishing the body, feedback is crucial for nurturing someone's growth and success. What better gift can you give than helping someone achieve their full potential and higher levels of success? 

When you give someone value-added feedback, you offer them a fresh and different perspective on their abilities and actions. The proper feedback can help them improve in areas that can impact their career, income, and happiness.  

Your feedback can help someone recognize a blind spot or untapped potential. The person can better understand their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to make informed decisions about their personal and professional development. Your feedback can increase confidence and empower people to achieve more. 

But—and there is often a but—your feedback can turn people against you. It can lead to hurt feelings or resentment. Because of the risk, many people keep their observations and experiences to themselves. A gift, like a compliment, has no value if it isn't given. Let me share how you can successfully provide the gift of feedback. 

Right Motives. Like everything in life, your actions are more likely to be right when your motives are right. Million Dollar Consultant Alan Weiss says that most unsolicited advice is for the giver's benefit. Their motives are wrong. Their feedback is to make themselves feel superior or to tear the other person down. When your motives are to help another person get more in life, your feedback will likely be a gift.  

Offer to Share Your Experience. You can put someone on their heels or toes when you engage with them, meaning you can trigger someone into becoming defensive or lean into learning more. Unsolicited advice and feedback put people on their heels. Very few people love to be asked, "Can I give you some feedback?" This is usually code for, "Can I criticize you?"    

Instead, let the person know you would be happy to share some personal or career growth ideas if they are interested. This way, it is up to the other person to decide whether to talk. You could say, "I would be happy to share some things I've learned that I believe could also benefit you. Just let me know if you ever want to talk." Notice you aren't saying you want to give them some feedback. The feedback will come from some of the things you've learned in your growth and your observations of them.  

Connect to Your Observation. Feedback should always be grounded in your observations, never how you feel or what you believe the other person is feeling or thinking. If you can't see or hear it, you’re internalizing it, and your feedback is unlikely to be effective or well-received. You should be able to say, "I heard you say" or "I read in the email you sent."  

Explain the Benefit of Your Feedback. Remain focused on the benefit to the person when giving feedback or praise. When people know why you’re suggesting something, they are more likely to apply it. 

For example, I had a friend who often responded to something I said with, "I know." I pointed out that people could interpret that response as him being defensive or arrogant. I know him, so I didn't take it that way, but it is a habit that he would be better off changing. He thanked me and started working on it. 

Giving feedback can be an incredible gift for someone. Just ensure you wrap it properly, and chances are you’re helping someone get that much closer to their success and putting yourself closer to yours. Give to Get.  

So let me ask three questions: 

1) Would you eat a box of feedback for breakfast? (I’m in if it’s sugarcoated!)  

2) What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received? 

3) Are you giving enough feedback gifts to help others be successful?