The pain and the power of feedback

By Sue Knight

International Consultant and author of ‘NLP At Work’, pioneering the use of NLP for people in business.

“Daddy I don’t want to go to school anymore!” “Why not son?” replied his shocked father. “They keep trying to tell me about things I don’t know!”

Just recently I received some shocking personal feedback. The facts did not correspond to the events as I had experienced them. And that does not matter although it did cause me a lot of pain at the time. What matters is that I look beyond the accusations and emotive language and seek the truth.

The feedback is always the truth for the person giving it. There really is no point in disputing the facts. Feedback is rarely about truth. It is often about relationships and anger and pain and equally it can be about admiration and celebration and respect. It can be just as hard to receive the latter as it is the former.

This is feedback!

I recall David Gordon saying on my first NLP training – when someone gives you feedback they are telling you about themselves more than they are telling you about you. And even so, it is a chance to learn from whatever they say, no matter how they say it. At the time of reading this feedback (which was not given to me personally and was given without an invitation to explore or discuss face to face) I read a copy of a newsletter by my friend Lesley McDonald (Google lesley mcdonald nlp edinburgh); she speaks so beautifully about our capacity to go beyond the actions and words and forgive and to realise that in the way that we do this we can make a difference in the world. She refers to Gordon Wilson whose daughter was so tragically killed in the Eniskillen bombing and whose actions in forgiving the bombers were believed to have been the turning point in the progress towards peace in Northern Ireland. These are the kind of words and actions that lead to peace. Lesley’s words came to me at the time that I needed them most.

I have often heard delegates on my courses when being given feedback say “That is right” and I ask them “What kind of feedback is wrong? Is it feedback that you have never heard before in which case that might be the very feedback that you most need to hear”

Notice that I do not talk about how we give feedback here as I believe that we only have that right when we have learnt how to receive it with an open mind and an open heart. There is a great deal written on how to give but less on how to receive and yet that is the time when we can give the most.

I have spent the last three months in India and I admire so much the Indian thinking and ways.

My Master used to say, “Our home is the training ground of patience and endurance. To endure the adversities of life is for us the greatest penance which is the noblest of all other forms of penances. What we have, therefore, to do under the circumstances is not to give way to the feeling of anger or grief but assume an unquestioning attitude thinking that we ourselves are in the wrong for which we have to forbear with a cool mind. Solitary life in a forest and aloofness from all worldly concerns may be to some the means of cultivating patience and forbearance but to us the taunts and rebukes of our friends and relations is the greatest penance and the surest means of success“. Reality at Dawn by Ram Chandra

Receiving and giving feedback are themes on all my programmes. It is vital to the process of modelling excellence with NLP. You can enrich your ability to do this in the coming months in France or the UK or if you are prepared to wait a little longer in India at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

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