Mike McMahon AUSD
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Giving Feedback and Receiving Feedback

Instead of Praise and Criticism

Source: Coalition of Essential Schools

Criticism shuts us down

We're usually too defensive to listen and evaluate and assess what we're hearing.

Emply praise, like criticism, often judges the doer, not the deed. Praise often make us uncomfortable and anxious. It doesn't tell us what we did that was good or valued. We end up seeking approval of the person who's judging us, rather than focusing on our behavior and the goals we set for ourselves.

Examples of empty praise: "Good job." "You're doing great." "Excellent." "You're terrific." "You've improved since last week."

Give feedback on the deed not the doer

Feedback about the deed puts the focus on what you did or said and how you did it - not whether you are a good or bad person. Think of feedback as a way of playing back the video tape of what just happened. Feedback lets the other person know that we were paying attention. Feedback places the "receiver" in control of the data. When people receive feedback, they can assess on their own how they did. - The "receiver" can choose what to use, what to consider, what to incorporate in "next time" behaviors and responses.

For the receiver. Think of feeback as a package you receive in the mail. You can choose to:

  • Return to sender; it came to the wrong address.
  • Keep the package and communicate that you've received it.
  • Keep the package, open it, and use what's in it right away.
  • Keep it on the shelf for now; you might want to use it in the future.

Use concrete, specific language that indicates what you saw, heard, felt, or experienced.

If you use "fat words" like "okay," "great," "interesting," "not good enough," "that's better," the "receiver" won't get specific information that is really helpful.

Feedback statements begin in different ways:

Naming what you heard a person say or saw a person do:

Examples: "You let me take as much time as I needed." "You made everyone in the group feel welcome by inviting them to all say something in the beginning." "You spoke loud enough so that we could all hear you." "You found three different solutions to the problem."

Giving reactions from your perspective:

When someone gives us feedback, they're letting us know how our words and behavior affected them. For example: "I liked it when you ...... I noticed that ..... I observed that you ..... I appreciated it when you ..... It would have helped me understand better if you had ..... I like the way you ..... It would have worked better for me if you had .... This policy isn't clear to me. I'm not sure what to do."

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Last modified: June 2, 2004

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