What feedback really is –
Part 2: A way to connect.
I was participating in a leadership program last year, four weeks of intense experiential learning, of growing beyond yourself, of being uncomfortable and challenged.
In the third week, one of the tasks was to give each other feedback – in front of everyone.
One person would sit in a “hot seat” will getting feedback from the other 19.
Wow, what a roast I thought.
I couldn’t be any more wrong: That was the night that brought us much closer together. The night that we actually repeated on one of the free nights during our fourth week of being together.
What made it so special?
The feedback was coming from the heart: Everyone felt seen and appreciated, there was a longing to see each other grow and develop (see post 1) and to see more of those qualities.
Some were surprised to see that the qualities they admire in themselves, they are proud of, are being noticed and acknowledged by others.
The underlying message was “You are good as a person, I see that in you” and the feedback was about the actions, about what one was doing or not doing, but never doubting the person itself.
Also the environment was safe and encouraging: At no point in time, anyone was afraid to be judged, to be blamed, to be confronted. Instead it was like holding up a mirror, 19 people who see you for who you truly are, you see something in you you weren’t even aware of, and who want more of so many parts of you.
And as someone giving the feedback it was touching to see how it landed. How surprised someone was that we saw something in him, he was longing to show. How empowered she felt that we do see in her what she was afraid to show and that we encouraged her to show and be more of this.
It was, in a way, an intimate moment. A moment of being completely naked (figuratively), of diving into vulnerability, into being on the stage, allowing others to see you and also allowing yourself to take it in, to accept the love and the acknowledgement.
It brought us closer together because we all felt we were being seen.
And we know, deep down, that whatever we did or didn’t do, whatever we said or didn’t say, whatever will happen – there is nothing that can be ruined. The relationship is solid, a strong foundation to build on. We respect, and trust each other – and even though we might be closer with some than with others, we truly acknowledge, recognize, admire, and celebrate each other’s strengths and everyone’s presence as a human being.
Read more about what feedback really is in part 3 of the “feedback” series.