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Feedback to serve the soul

Updated: May 1, 2019

Over the years I’ve designed and delivered a number of workshops to help students and staff deliver feedback for increased performance and team effectiveness. Yet, I’ve never been stopped so in my tracks when a colleague of mine delivered some soul-serving feedback to me recently. I chuckle when I share it because it cuts to the quick and is core of who I am. Perhaps something I’ve been bucking (b/c of societal pressures, expectations, and fear!).

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“I don’t see you as a full-time anything.”

Really??!!? Gasp. Yet, when I pause and really hear the message she delivered (in a very heartfelt and connected way!) it stopped me in my tracks. It was a reset for my brain. And…she’s right. I, too, don’t see myself as a “full-time” anything. (I’ve got the true portfolio career.)

I’ve been thinking of going for my PhD – full time, assistantship, teaching – all in. And for what?

I want to teach more. I love to be in the classroom and to learn. But, I don’t see myself as a full-time, tenure track professor. So, why is the PhD route pulling me? (here comes the expectations, pressures, and all the crap in my brain I make up about what it means to have a PhD.)

I want my own business. I want to add some more classes to what I can teach (Small Group Communications, Group Process, Interpersonal Communications) and thought the way to do that was getting a PhD. Well, it’s one way. Yet, being adjunct is really what I desire (so that I don’t have to be a “full time” anything!).

I’ve let go of that PhD pursuit. And am really grateful someone had the courage to tell me the truth I’ve known but didn’t really want to acknowledge.

3 ways to offer and receive the type of feedback that serves the soul:

1. Be clear in what you want. When I teach, or coach, I ask students, “what feedback is going to be most relevant to you?” This question sets the frame for how I listen or observe them in their role. And then I get to pick out a few, very specific items to help them grow and develop based on the goals they have for themselves.

2. Hear the intent. I’ve coached too many managers and leaders who, unfortunately don’t have the tact or the skills, to deliver a message that can be heard. Now, Robin in this case shot straight with me and said it like it was. I was thankful for this, and it worked because we have a deep, trusting relationship. So, when she said it – it wasn’t an attack – the intent was heartfelt. She has seen me building my business over the years and knows how truly important that is to me. The intent (and trust!) was there for me to hear what she was saying.

3. Do what you will with the feedback. Sometimes the feedback people deliver is utter crap – and not worth action. Yes, I want to be open to having people deliver feedback (so I always say “thanks” when someone offers it up. BTW… “thanks” doesn’t always mean I’m in agreement with you!) – AND…I’ll decide what I should do with it. With Robin – I needed to LISTEN, really listen. In other cases, “okay, first time I’m hearing that” – then I file it away. Repeated messages might have a higher likelihood for me to DO SOMETHING with the feedback.

Bottom line: You decide!

What kind of feedback is going to help you be successful in your role?

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