Opinions That Matter (And Those That Don’t).

One of the most valuable things I’ve been reminded of this morning is the difference between feedback and opinions.  Feedback has been defined as being: information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.   How is this different from an opinion?  An opinion is defined as:  a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

The upcoming example that I have for you is personal and entirely vulnerable – but the hope is in service of helping you (and me) suck less.   Thank you, thank you, thank you to the people who provided me this painful but massively valauble feedback.  Due to length of dialog, this has been edited to just include the main points for this article:

Me: We’ve coached for a while now, what feedback would you have for me?

Them: You’re a dynamic individual and very passionate about what you do.  You can be very forceful in your opinions and for someone who’s poured their heart and soul into something, they can respond negatively to your opinions if they didn’t ask for them.  Also, by stating your opinion as fact, you can lose credibility with people who have more knowledge of the subject. And to be honest, we’re not sure we would have ever told you if you hadn’t asked for the feedback.  

It never feels good to hear you’re not doing something well, or that you have caused a negative reaction in someone, when your main focus was from a place of help.  It would be easy to dismiss these opinions as not being valuable, due to my own emotions regarding them.  Except: These opinions were based in fact and knowledge of the given subject: e.g.: their experience coaching with me.  AND I ASKED FOR IT.

Generally speaking, it can be difficult to deliver feedback due to fear of damaging the relationship.  E.G.: Managers and employees, one romantic partner to another, etc.  Here are some ways to help you provide quality feedback:

  1. Don’t avoid it. – They need to know.
  2. Be Immediate.  Tie it to ONE example of where they can improve, not several.
  3. Packaging matters.  How you say it matters.
  4. Make it actionable.  Something they can immediately take steps to correct.
  5. Make it specific.  “Looks good.” is not good feedback.
  6. Let it go. Once you’re done providing this feedback, move the conversation forward.

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