May 13

Feedback on Feedback: The Latest in Baby Steps

Baby Steps Feedback Event Page 2April 29th brought together nearly seventy NYC-based participants who were ready to take the next step in communicating fully. WAC Specialist Deborah Howard’s presentation The Art of Feedback turned on light bulbs in the heads of both the women and men who attended, as is evident in the content of the “Baby Steps” many of them generously offered before departing for the evening.

These little takeaways, indicating how the individual participants plan to turn their newly-acquired advice on giving and receiving personal and performance feedback into action, lend remarkable merit to Deborah’s program. Have a look at 2 selected batches of them, and get a feel for the common threads within.

I’m All Ears

Nearly a dozen Baby Steps were related to one good old-fashioned rule that can apply to any segment of life as we know it:

Listen to learn.

Be a better listener.

Make sure that others know you are listening.

Listen non-defensively.

Listen: 2 ears, 1 mouth.

You can’t learn while you’re speaking.

Be open, listen actively, and take action to improve.

Listen with compassion and then reflect on what I heard.

Listen to feedback as helpful rather than as criticism, no matter how it is delivered. “Just the facts”.

Be more receptive.

Feedback is only effective when understood.

Listening is more than a blunt request that our parents and teachers used to hurl at us by the minute; It is a Breakout_Oxana_Elise_Grayfundamental action that Deborah Howard reminded us can make all the difference when receiving feedback in the workplace. But as demonstrated in several of the preceding Baby Steps, the listening needs to be active, meaning, we need to offer signals to the giver that we are absorbing their message. When we become good active listeners, we in turn become more approachable by others, more informed, and ultimately more successful in our careers.

I Second That Emotion

Are you drawing the same connection as I am between the following 7 feedback-related Baby Steps?:


Remain calm.

Be calm while receiving and giving feedback.

Don’t get emotional.

Take emotion out.

Don’t let emotion be a roadblock to receiving feedback.

Don’t let my emotions take over. Listen and use the information for my benefit, to make me more successful.

DRG_Jessica_Robinson_KottlerThe references here to emotion and its incompatibility with the giving and receiving of feedback tap right into one major theme of Deborah Howard’s presentation. Essentially, if emotion is “in the room” when feedback is exchanged, the feedback runs the risk of being taken personally, and thus, is not truly “heard”. Furthermore, animosity and resentment can creep in, complicating the feedback-related issue instead of resolving it. When we zap emotion from the equation at the start, we can begin to not only give honest and complete feedback, but we can equip ourselves with the tools to fully receive feedback and all of its benefits.

But Wait….There’s More

Additional Baby Steps touched on the themes of timeliness in delivering feedback, the underutilization of positive feedback, avoidable roadblocks to receiving feedback, and the spillover of good feedback habits into our personal lives. To read the full list of 3-dozen Baby Steps from the event, link to our Testimonials Page. For more insight into Deborah Howard’s presentation, link to our Blog Post about the event. And don’t forget to offer us some feedback!

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