No Feedback = Stuck in the Muck without Realizing It

How can one change?

- The "establishment”? 

- My child?  

- Me?! 

Have you experienced a less-than-optimal situation and wanted to help it evolve only to be told, “This is the way it is.  PERIOD.”

I have.  Twice this week!   Each instance is characterized by the absence of feedback.

No Feedback = No Change

1. In one situation I am managing a group of volunteers who faithfully show up for their task year after year.  They do their job their way and are satisfied with the outcome.  The leaders of the organization share a different opinion.  Previous managers have tried to introduce performance-improvement concepts with little effect. 

Why improve when you’re already doing great? 

Our volunteers are acting intelligently based on their beliefs.  Here’s the crutch:  they assume that others view the situation as they do.  If their work is good enough for them, they believe its surely quality for others.  Only that’s not the case.  And because it’s volunteers, managers feel uncomfortable intervening.  (That’s why they called on me!!!)

2. The second non-changing institution is the French educational system, the Berlin wall of learning.  It’s big, rigid, powerful, and protected.  Criteria for success within the system differ vastly from those of the outside world.

This past year 5% of my son’s classes were cancelled by teachers.  45 hours (2 weeks worth) of classes were annulled for various “legitimate” reasons:  illness, training, and testing.   As a parent representatives for the class, I brought up the issue of absences at our closing Parent &Teachers meeting.  (It felt like Parent vs. Teachers)

Their reply:  Madame, we take offense.  C’est impossible de changer!  Besides, what a waste of time to track the number of missed classes by our teachers!”  Helloooo?

This from the people who provides grades—measurable performance feedback—to our children so that they can improve.  It’s mind boggling. 

Feedback Ignored

And yet, I might share characteristics of close-mindedness too. 

My family eats burnt food again and again.  They provide feedback, “Oh, no!  The regular for dinner?!  Next time, could I have my carrots raw, please?!” 

Our children kept information from us out of fear of our reaction:  Will Mom get mad?  Will Dad give us a lecture? 

My husband did not like talking with me about his work; I always had The Solution!!  (It’s exactly what I reproach in him too.)

Could you, I, and our kids express some of the characteristics of unchanging establishments?  We create barriers to receiving feedback and ignore it when it’s given.

Stuck in the Muck. 

How can we break free...and be open to other’s observations and constructive comments?

Show we care.

Build a craving for it.

Connect Shows Care

It’s a lot easier to talk behind someone’s back than to confront them with “opportunities to improve.”  In fact usually when we get feedback it's from someone furious and not caring or totally crazy about us...and, because they care, possibly acting crazed too.

As Antishenes—a Greek philosopher and disciple of Socrates (445 -365 B.C.)—observed,  “There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.”

Receiving and giving feedback is an emotional experience.  We usually feel the need to give feedback when we are angry or upset.  When people come to us with critique, we can feel sad, hurt, and misunderstood.

Critique leaves us hot or cold.  Not lukewarm!

What distinguishes the comments of a dear friend from those of an enemy?


Too often we rush into the feedback before strengthening the relationship.  It’s like taking a side car on a ride but forgetting to attach it to the motorbike.  They don’t go far together.

It's like the coaching I receive when playing Mario Kart with my boys.  

“Turn NOW!”

Oops.  I overcompensated and my vehicle fell into the void. 

“You turned too late and too hard...Mom, you can play by yourself.  We’ll race each other afterwards.”  (Polite way of saying, “You’re a failure.”)  Sometimes they even say, “You made me lose.” 

I’m confused.  I thought we were on the same team!

There is no chance of success.  The response to feedback must be immediate, precise, and their way.  How loving is that?! 

For effective and efficient feedback, start with connecting by validating the emotions.  When we feel vulnerable, our emotions can block us from reasoning.  We’re in reaction—often defensive or aggressive—mode.  

A mere, “You must feel angry (hurt, disappointed, misunderstood....)” is like letting air out of a balloon ready to burst.  Empathy helps us from seeing red to being able to perceive blue skies, to hope.

Like feeling heard, being warmed by smiling lips, and basking in the look of love.  Phew!

To make connecting even more efficient and effective for you, we devised 10 Ways to Plug In Together.  Download for free and ENJOY!

Feed Back ≠ Force Feed

In the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) teaches how to close a sale.  “Sell me this pen.”

Several folk expand on its amazing qualities.  Minimal interest.

It’s the one who calls out to write down the phone number of this really hot chic that sells the pen.  He revealed the need.  Until you want to write, a pen is optional.

Similarly, people welcome feedback when there’s a benefit to them.  If there is no perceived value to them, why bother with the discomfort of vulnerability that comes with receiving coaching?  Just because you and I might think they need to change behavior doesn’t mean they do.

Jane Nelsen, the founder of Positive Discipline, reminds us that people who are not ready to hear are not ready to make use of the insights either.

Food for thought is like nourishment.  To get your child to eat vegetables, allow them to be hungry.

“I noticed some spelling mistakes on your homework.   If you’re interested in learning more, you know where to find me.”  It’s the children’s homework and grade, not the parents’.

“How fun was that play date?...Humm.  I wonder if there might be ways to make it more fun next time.  If you wonder too,  come and try out some ideas on me.”  When kids feel lonely, they'll be more open to learning about changing their behavior to be a better friend.

“Don’t think of the pink elephant.”  They weren’t until you mentioned it!


One of my teen sons would benefit from better teamwork, a.k.a. he could use some feedback about respect.  We proposed an Outward Bound leadership camp for this summer.  

“Mom, I would prefer doing wakeboarding, but if I have to...  Besides, you don’t give me a choice :-(

“Honey, I won’t force you.  I have looked for other camps and do not find one.  You do have a choice:  1. you look for a camp, 2. you keep yourself busy without a camp and without being glued to the screen, or 3. Outward Bound.”

The Outward Bound organization requests an extensive application process.   First the participants answer two pages of questions, then are interviewed for one half hour before eventually being accepted.   

My son began the process with little motivation.  The questions did make him think...

...yet he answered them succinctly.  Just enough investment to get the job done.

“See, you decided.”

“Honey, you’re not accepted yet.  They have to approve your application and invite you for an interview.”

By the time the phone call came around, my son WANTED to hear from them and conversed animatedly.  Again, Outward Bound poses thought-provoking questions so he caught a glimpse of the quality of the program. 

And he wanted feedback.  “What did they say about me?! :-)

Excellent and expressive monkey photos from Barbaras HD Wallpapers


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