Give positive feedback!

We can only talk about what we know, so use that

Providing feedback is a tricky thing.

Negative feedback almost always puts the other person into the frame of mind where learning is not possible – their sympathetic nervous system (fight-flight) is triggered, they go into the red brain - and their whole being focuses on that, not on learning.

To stimulate learning we need to give positive feedback and, as we know that more learning takes place when we focus on our strengths, then providing feedback around what is going well makes sense.

However, while straight praise is not a bad thing, we are not typically an authority on what constitutes great performance when someone is focused on using their strengths – and of course the other person usually knows this.

Yuri Krotov - The Conversation Luxembourg Gardens Paris

Yuri Krotov - The Conversation Luxembourg Gardens Paris

What we are an authority on is our own experience when we see this person in action. So, the key is not to tell someone how well they have performed or how good they are, rather it is to describe what you experienced when their moment of brilliance caught your attention.

There is nothing more believable nor more authoritative than sharing what you saw and how it made you feel.  Saying “This is what I felt when I saw you do that” or “That really prompted some new thinking for me,” or even “Did you see what you just did then?”

Those are your reactions and when you relay them in detail, you aren’t judging or rating or fixing them, you’re simply reflecting back to them the unique impact they just had in the world, as seen by you.

Precisely because you did not judge or rate them it is more authentic and more powerful, more supportive of their learning.


John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.  Earlier blogs can be found here.

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John Corrigan