The Feedback that Should Interest You

The Feedback that Should Interest You

As communicators, we crave feedback. We want to know how our message came across. How our audience reacted. And, naturally we want praise. Yet, often enough the feedback or the lack of feedback that actually comes can lead to frustration. This frustration might hinder or block our progress. We can give up because of harsh comments, a few negative remarks offered by someone we admire or a lack of likes.

I know I have.

Like the devil, feedback has many voices and not all of them are ones you should heed.

What sort of feedback should we be interested in?

As a coach, I recently discussed a speech I had prepared with a client. I asked about the feedback she had received after the event. During our conversation, two verbs emerged which Iillustrate the only feedback we need both to receive and give: uplift and elevate.


Like a toddler making tentative steps, we need feedback which supports and uplifts us. It can be praise, encouragement, congratulations, or just a gentle nudge or nod of approval to get in the game. By holding out a hand to grasp onto, the toddler moves forward with me, exploring the potential for walking that is within range. I offer supportive words that reassure and strengthen confidence. My words and gestures create a safety net. This is uplifting feedback. This is what I try to offer my clients and what I need to hear as a client, as a communicator, and as a man too. Wherever we are in our journey or whatever activity we are undertaking, we need to hear feedback that uplifts.


As we walk, I show the toddler things it might not notice. I open the way to experience new perspectives, to think new thoughts. I reinforce the toddler’s natural love and hunger for doing, learning, exploring by gently guiding it in new directions. Or I pause to point out details that my life and experience has made me aware of: the way the leaves reflect light or how grass is wet in the morning. I freely speak English to a French toddler, knowing the sounds of another language will connect neural pathways and enhance brain functions.

My goal is always to elevate. I elevate by suggesting ways to push a step further to enter the range of experience and possibilities that are waiting beyond. To my clients I might set a goal that they had not imagined like writing a poem about the rain in Dakar or making a TED or TEDX talk. This is feedback that elevates. And this is what we all need to receive too.

Tough Love

As an adult you may feel you can handle tough love, negative psychology, and biased judgments that reveal more about the person giving you feedback than you care to admit or imagine. Perhaps you can. If this sort of feedback uplifts and elevates you, go for it! My point is toddlers intuitively know what works for them. They scream or cry when feedback goes against their interests. And then they get back to the job of being the daring, wonderfully creative learners and doers that they are because they have yet to enter the stage where fear of feedback limits.

Uplift and elevate. Two verbs you can remember to check the feedback you are receiving and giving. Listening to the wrong type of feedback can destroy you. Giving the wrong type of feedback will destroy others.

Don’t listen to the wrong type of feedback. Shut it out.

Don’t give the wrong type of feedback. It’s simple to do it right.

Uplift and Elevate.

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