As I know I mentioned earlier this year, my daughter enjoys playing soccer. Like all of us, though, there are times when she doesn’t give her best in her endeavors.
Today was one of those days.
In goal she was ineffective and tired. On the field she looked as if she was watching the game, not playing in it. These things happen, but they can be disappointing to watch, and it is easy to feel bad for the person and the team.
Afterwards, she came up to me a bit saddened, clearly knowing that today was not one of her best performances. She asked if I was happy with her performance, and I turned it back on her. “Were you?” I asked.
She told me that one of her teammates told her she was bad, and we talked a bit about the importance of a proper message. It wasn’t that she was bad, but rather that she did not play as well as she could have. We talked about steps to take next time, and what she could have done to avoid some of the poor playing she had engaged in.
Many times we are tasked with providing feedback to others. Whether it be about their performance as learners or leaders, or whether it be regarding other things entirely, our goal is always to provide feedback in such a way that it is meaningful for those seeking it. In the case of my daughter, I had to first let her know that she wasn’t “bad” and help her reframe the situation. In other cases, it might be about figuring out what feedback is going to be most useful while in other situations it is more important that we simply share the feedback as soon as possible.
The value of helping others see when they may have performed at less than their optimal levels is that we can then showcase for them the importance of continual improvement. As with my daughter, the hope with feedback is that it helps us all grow. And with continued growth, we are never bad, only on the pathway towards getting better.