Providing Honest Feedback

You said WHAT?!? I’m internally processing, in real time, a conversation being relayed back to me by someone who was proudly sharing how they “successfully” dealt with a situation. Tell me I’m misunderstanding this… please… I dig a little. I ask a few strategic questions, hoping to uncover the “success” in what’s being described. The more I inquire, the worse it gets. Clearly we have different definitions of success.

My mind is racing with how to rectify the situation. Who needs to be spoken to? What decisions need to be reversed? How much damage-control is involved here?…

Pause. Breathe. Smile.

Enter the art of providing honest feedback.

The simple fact is that empowering others will, at times, get messy. People won’t think something through the way you would, they won’t speak to others the way you would, and sometimes they won’t even realize that what they did was damaging. (And if you’re honest, you’ll see this in yourself sometimes too.)

Oh how I’ve learned, and am still learning, how to use a filter! It would serve no beneficial purpose for me to gasp and show my horror in situations like that. That hurts. That leaves the other person feeling like a failure. And it’s effects are the complete opposite of inspiring.

Job 6:25 (NLT)
Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to?

Honest feedback doesn’t mean candy-coated. It doesn’t necessarily mean “sandwiched” between two positives either. Honest feedback is gently showing someone the error of their ways and pointing them to truth.

Here’s some simple tips to help you provide honest feedback.

Honest feedback is NOT:
– harsh
– critical
– demeaning
– emotionally charged
– about me

Honest feedback IS:
– motivated by love
– focused on helping
– inspirational
– rational
– about benefiting others

Navigating through “negative” situations is one of the opportunities in life where we can impact others’ view of God – negatively or positively. God loves us deeply and when the Holy Spirit points out our sin, we are never condemned, but are made aware of our mistake and are inspired to change. We should strive to have this effect on those we minister to.

I am so thankful for those in my life who have guided, nurtured and trained me by providing honest feedback when I’ve messed up. Not only am I a better leader because of it, I also understand more clearly God’s love for me in every situation, successful or not.

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