Give Feedback Immediately

Just wait until your father gets home! — Old parenting joke

When your child does something out of bounds, when is the best time to give corrective feedback?

No, this is not a trick question. And I know that for some (many?) of you, it’s a shock to discover that your 14-year-old (or 2-year-old) can do something wrong.

Right! You provide the feedback at the time. If you wait, the feedback loses immediacy and impact.

Henry Cloud uses the example in his latest book The Power of the Other of a pair of mountain climbers. When is the best time to give feedback on a faulty foot placement? Before or after the slip and fall?

“Get behind me Satan.” Jesus to Peter

When Peter gave a wrong answer to Jesus, he received immediate feedback. In the course of three years, Peter received a lot of immediate corrective feedback. And he developed into a great leader.

Cloud uses the picture of a rectangle with four corners. He defines four types of relationships. Three are dysfunctional. The Corner Four relationships build you up, provide energy, and also sometimes corrective feedback when necessary. A true friend will give you the metaphorical kick in the butt when you need it.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.

When I was editor-in-chief of a magazine, I routinely asked of people during my travels how I and the magazine could improve. What might be lacking? Where could we be going? Mostly I heard, “You’re doing a great job.” We like positive remarks, of course, but if you are looking for continuous improvement, then you need some corrective feedback. Maybe gentle, maybe a little harder to wake us up.  But it’s important.

One point–when you are looking for feedback beware the “skeptic” as defined in Proverbs. They are always critical of everything. They may or may not be helpful. Look for your Corner Four relationship, a friend or someone who cares about you. They know you and have a feel for what feedback is useful for your growth.

Oh, go buy the book, read it, digest it. Cloud will help you add depth to your relationships.

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One Response to “Give Feedback Immediately”

  1. Joseph Ruiz Says:

    I’m a fan of Cloud too. We’ve heard him speak at the Leadership Summits and my wife and I attended a week long workshop he and Townsend did in CA. It was life changing. Thanks for the thoughts on the new book, I’ll need to add it to the list.

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