An avid Yogini, I go to 2-3 classes weekly and enjoy discovering new teachers’ styles and finding ways to push myself. After practice, students will often approach the instructor to say “That was awesome”, or “You're an amazing teacher! Thanks so much”.
Here’s the thing: Although it's a generous thing to do and it will make the teacher smile, it does not really help him develop in any way.
If we look at our interactions at work, similarly, there are missed opportunities for helping others grow. A colleague does a great presentation and you approach her afterward to say something (well-meaning!) like: “Hey Leila, way to go with that pitch!”, and walk away. She will feel flattered, but still be in the dark as to what was effective in her pitch.
Yet it’s surprisingly easy to turn a compliment into an opportunity for Leila to learn something new about herself.
Next time you want to tell someone they did a great job, try the format below with all the parts. I’ve scripted it to help you get ideas on how you could lead such an exchange:
“Hey Leila, I was impressed with your presentation on solving the market research problem we’ve been struggling with”. (This first part is about telling them that they added value to the group on something important.)
“To me, what was most powerful was when you pointed out how our survey questions were skewed and not really getting the clients’ true pain points. And you had such great poise and confidence in your voice! You spoke very clearly and got to the point quickly.” (Here you’ve told them what, specifically, they did well. Give feedback on the content, as well as how they “showed up” for you & others. All different facets are important.)
“I also noticed that three people had some version of the same question for you at the end. So that must be something that many more are interested in. Perhaps you’ll want to follow up with more info on it?” (Here, you’re helping them by pointing out audience reactions they might have missed -because, duh, they were busy presenting and that's nerve-racking- which is super valuable for them.)
“Leila, you mentioned that the next step would be to include urban teenagers in our research, and I can help. I used to work on ad campaigns targeting urban youth, so I could work with you on that piece”. (This last bit is bonus, but it you’re able and willing to help the person with their goals, you will build a stronger relationship with them.)
There you have it: a simple way to become someone’s hero. They’ll not only feel energized by your kind words, but also learn something new about their talents, so that they can continue to leverage those in the future! I personally like emailing my positive feedback to people, so that they can refer back to it, but if in-person is your thing, go for it.
...And for those of you wondering: “But what about giving criticism? How do we do that?” I can already hear you from here. For this week, how about you just try giving positive feedback with this new method?
Go. Enjoy the LOVEFEST that these conversations create for a while. And don’t limit yourself to work! Try it with your friend, bartender, significant other…
Once you master giving positive feedback, I’ll share tips on providing the kind of feedback that’s harder to give (I think they call it “opportunity for growth” these days). But first: “Wax on, wax off”, dear friend.
And if you’ve read this far, here’s an extra tip that helps YOU too:
Next time someone pays you a compliment about your presentation / class / talk, why not respond with: “Thanks for letting me know. What specifically did you like about it?” or “What resonated with you the most?” or “What did you find most valuable?”. It will tell you more about what others see as your unique strengths.
I always love hearing how these tips are transforming your relationships! Either share your comment below or send me a short private message. You’ll be making my day. In under 2 minutes.