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Good feedback is not all about improvement

Last week I wrote about why constructive criticism doesn’t work. Now I’m moving on to yet another misconception that gets in the way of using all the magical powers of feedback.

Myth Bust #2: Not all good feedback has to be used for improvement.

That’s right. Same way constructive criticism only implies something negative is happening, feedback implies that the communication can swing both ways.

And, the same way constructive criticism isn’t really the best way to improve behavior, there are words and practices used to give positive feedback that don’t quite make the cut if your end goal is…well… to maintain that great behavior (or even increase it). The words come in different forms: praise, kudos, high fives. But none of those get to the heart of the matter like good feedback does.

“Ok. Now you’re telling me I can’t give constructive criticism OR praise?”

Not at all. I’m just saying they should both be called and processed just like formal feedback if you want them to be as effective as they can be.

Here’s the easiest way to transform your praise into good feedback with one simple sentence:

“You did amazing at [insert action]. That’s helpful because [tie the benefit of the action to a higher mission or goal].”

There it is. Piece of cake (After you’re done with January Whole30.)

By being specific about the action that you liked, and reiterating the reason that action is important in the grand scheme of things – you’re helping clarify and reinforce behavior instead of just praising something randomly.

And that is feedback.

There are more ways to give good feedback for increasing or maintaining behavior. If you want to learn, join me on February 24 for my Get Real™ workshop.  

Amber Barnes
Amber Barnes
Amber is a leadership development professional with a heart for helping leaders maximize human performance in the workplace (and beyond.) With over a decade of experience coaching, training and advising leaders, she writes to helps leaders become more effective. Amber highlights common pitfalls, effective (and human) leadership practices as well as "must-knows" for leaders.