The Power of Feedback

I received permission to share this from an instructor in one of my training courses:

In sixth grade, I was not only very short, but spindly and uncoordinated. My least favorite class was gym, where the teacher was one of those stereotypical “drill sergeant” types. One day we girls were playing softball outside while the boys’ gym class exercised nearby. I was up to bat. I quickly made two strikes and then hit the ball so weakly that it was immediately picked up. I never made it to first base. In a disgusted tone that I can still hear in my head, my instructor loudly berated me as the puniest, weakest little thing she’d ever seen in her life

I felt completely humiliated. I was sure that everyone, including the boys, was laughing at me. As a result, I found ways to avoid taking my turn at bat (or participating in almost any organized sport) throughout my years at school. I never improved at softball, for example, and avoid team sports to this day.

For those of you that work in a role where you have to judge the performance of others, be it at a school or in an office building, please be extremely conscious of the impact of your words.  There can be far reaching and extremely damaging results.  Just think of how a positive and constructive response could have made a difference for this person in the other direction.

Have you ever had feedback that was particularly damaging or uplifting in your life?


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