When I attended the ASCEND leadership training, the coach talked about how dangerous benign statements can be. I am talking about a third category which is lesser known. You have what we call, feedback (critical one similar to an engine light warning), compliments (no anology required) and the third, benign which is like hit-and-run. In the last, you can never tell you what hit you and how you can prevent in the future.
Few days ago, someone walked into my office, and asked me if I hear the recordings of my own speeches. I was honest and said I don’t like listening to my own voice but I’ve learned to take feedback (the engine light warning) so I can stay grounded and get better. Remember my goal is not to be a motivational speaker. My goal is to be able to convey a message at the forum I am obliged to.
They continued to say while I can be amazing at speaking my pitch needs work and I speak too fast to the point that it is difficult to understand. Sounds like a compliment or feedback somewhat but truly neither. After saying that, they left. Just like a hit-and-run, they came in unsolicited, threw in some benign statements without context and walked away. If it were true feedback with an example of where and when, I could relate and turn it into something tangible. I remembered instances where the feedback (atleast I thought it was) I shared was taken with absolute disgust and the receivers got defensive. Because, they had nothing to work with.
Lesson learned from that instance was, benign statements are baseless and demotivating, they are not malignant but they sure will kill. For those who are people managers like me, I am sure you’ve done it many ways. I, sure have done it many ways and realized that the best way to give feedback is to provide a reference to the receiver, be nice and motivate them. Don’t hit-and-run. “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” ~ Maya Angelou.