Springingtiger's Blog

Positive Feedback


One of the most important presuppositions of NLP is that, “There is no failure, only feedback” sometimes shortened to, “There is only feedback”. In fact every outcome we accomplish whether it’s desired or not is feedback, data about our performance as well as about the context in which it occurred. We are feedback machines with all our senses feeding us information about our relationship with the world, our emotions are constantly telling us whether our interpretation of events is empowering. If we do not feel positive about a set of circumstances, it is time to look at how we are thinking because it is our thinking which disempowers us, not our circumstances. When we change our thinking we can change or circumstances.

Neelam and I have just finished running a course that has provided the space, not only for people to learn about presentation skills, but to transform themselves into presenters from the inside out, it was all very satisfying. One of the exciting things was observing the participants accepting feedback and acting on it to get results. I was surprised to discover they were unfamiliar with the feedback sandwich, I suppose we have been presenters for a long time and sometimes don’t realise that what is commonplace to us is unfamiliar to others. The participants were used to feedback about areas for improvement  being an unpleasant and negative experience, but the Feedback Sandwich done well, done congruently, turns correction (in the sense of “course correction”) into a positive experience, In the workbook Neelam wrote for the course the Feedback Sandwich is given as follows.

1. Positive feedback about what, specifically has been done well by the individual.
2. Specific, behavioural, information about what could be done better / what could be improved.
Ask the individual to repeat this to you/ask what they will be improving.
3. Positive feedback, focused on the person.
Neelam then gives an example which I won’t repeat because I don’t want to restrict the possibilities the structure provides. Throughout the course we modeled this structure with widely variant forms of words, but always maintaining the structure so that the participants felt supported rather than criticised and acted on the suggestions for improvement to great effect. The participants all came from the same organisation and, as I have said were unused to feedback being a positive experience. I suspect any organisation wanting to be more productive, could make an extremely cost effective first step by adopting the Feedback Sandwich and moving away from the blame culture found throughout many of British businesses and institutions, certainly, and other countries perhaps.

The transformation of the participants into presenters depended upon more than just feedback, but the impact that the discovery of the difference made by positive feedback, in the form of the Feedback Sandwich, stands out, for me, as one of the most memorable parts of the course.If you want to make an easy, but powerful change, in your life start using the feedback sandwich as a matter of course, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover the people you thought were obstructive idiots are actually both intelligent and helpful.


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