Appreciation works better than criticism

Most people are naturally hard on themselves, they don’t need your help.

Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think, found in her research that people think best when they are getting five times as much appreciation as criticism. And it makes sense right? Do you do your best thinking when you feel judged?

What convinced me was an experience I had on a two-day workshop training people in the business to be able to deliver workshops of their own.

All participants had to practice delivering a session and then they would get one to one feedback with one of the course facilitators.

One participant delivered his session, and it was grim, one of the worst I’d seen, and I was to give his feedback.

Having just read Nancy’s book, I decided I was only going to give feedback on all the things he’d done well.

He had good knowledge of the subject, great confident body language and eye contact. So we talked about what he wanted the participants to learn and how he could use these three strengths.

The next day when he had to practice again the difference was like night and day. It wasn’t the best session I’d ever seen but I’d be confident sending him out to train our staff.

The thing is, he knew he wasn’t great, and me telling him wasn’t going to help him improve, it would have made him more nervous.

By focusing on what he was doing well and coaching him to come up with ways he could use these strengths even more, he moved from lecturing in a monotone to breaking the topic up into chunks and getting some interaction.

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