I haven’t worked out in 6 weeks.
I’ve been traveling in northern Thailand, repatriating from South Korea to Colorado, working on home improvement projects for my parents, and spending tons of time with family, friends, and my beautiful Colorado mountains.
So, when I walked in to my first CrossFit class four days ago, I was ready to get a good sweat on. The coach and people and facility were all nice. I received feedback and cues from the coach (in detailed English) which was something I had been missing desperately in South Korea. It was a good experience; however, I left feeling a little blue.
Here’s what I was able to pull out from the experience—the coach never told me anything I was doing well; he simply pointed out what I could improve.
Constructive feedback was actually what I’d been craving, but I realized that without the companion of positive feedback, I was a little less open to hearing what he had to say and a little less pumped when I left the gym.
What is interesting to me is that I am a seasoned CrossFitter—I know my knowledge and skill sets are solid. Even with this self-confidence, I still
wanted needed a balance of positive and constructive feedback from my new coach.
I can’t imagine how defeated I would’ve felt if it was my first class.
Let me be clear, this coach was a nice guy and had great suggestions. He was a good coach. However, as coaches and teachers, we tend to fall into a place where we focus only on what needs to be fixed.
Herein lay that big ol’ slap-in-the-face reminder for me—speak positivity into people’s lives. All the time, ideally, but especially when you’re trying to help someone improve.
This is relevant in communication with loved ones. This is essential when in a teaching or coaching position. This is the core ingredient for people feeling connected and safe with you when they are in a place of discomfort or when they are stretching their limits.
Here are some practical ideas of how to get a great balance of positive and constructive feedback when interacting with others.
- Prelude each constructive criticism with a specific validation of something done well. (If you forget, you can always add a positive at the end.)
- Try using the word “and” instead of “but” to connect your affirmation and your constructive feedback. Example: “You have done such a great job practicing your sight words this week,
butand if you want to get to the next level, we can work on your spelling words now.”
- Visualize the person in front of you achieving their goals; verbalize that bright future to them whenever appropriate.
- Don’t blow smoke up anyone’s behind. The positive affirmation can absolutely be something small and specific, but above all, must be true.
- Finish each coaching/teaching session with a positive wrap-up statement that validates time, effort, and achievement in an authentic way.
In a world full of “not ____ enough”, we teachers/coaches/humans have the potential to spread light and possibility. As easy as it is to forget amidst the demands and details of “adulting”, it is essential that we shine light and kindness and affirmation into our fellow human’s lives.
Let this be your focus for a day, and notice the difference.