These past few months I’ve been researching the professional concept of “feedback”.
It’s lead me down a magical eye opening pathway.
I now see that feedback is an all encompassing force of life. Our bodies, the universe, birth, death, relationships, and everything in between.
It’s all Feedback.
I’m starting to think that even Time itself is another form of feedback.
One term that runs down the middle of feedback going wrong is “switching tracks”.
John and Jenny and the Flowers
John buys Jenny flowers on his way home from work. Jenny takes the flowers, looks disappointed, and after a moment she gives John some advice. *1
Jenny: “Try not to take this the wrong way. If we’re going to be married for the next 30yrs then I need you to know. I don’t like flowers.” *2
John: “Ok, um. Can I also just say that it would have been at least nice if you had thanked me first for the gesture.” *3
Jenny: “I already told you I don’t like flowers. Remember?” *4
John: “Oh yeh. I think I can recall that. But all the same. It’s a gift. Does it really matter what it is? You would still thank me right?” *5
We are now at 5 exchanges. Things are heated.
Here’s how it ends.
“John. How do you expect someone to thank you for something they specifically told you they don’t want?”
“Jenny. Here’s a better question. How do you take a gift and turn it into an argument?”
John is switching tracks.
Types of Feedback
It is said that in all communication there are only 3 types of Feedback.
- Appreciation. “Thank you…”
- Coaching. “Great! Here’s an alternative way of doing things…”
- Evaluation. “This is where we stand…”
To some extent I agree with this. The categories themselves are perhaps not so important. What is significant is the shared understanding.
“What sort of feedback am I expecting from you now?”
In my reading through Feedback text I’ve stumbled upon an endless stream of terms.
Blindspots, Bias, Triggers, Data, Projection, Duality, Perception, Objectivity, Intention, Character, Situation, Consistency, Consulting, Ecology, Agreement, Intimacy, Singularity, Acceptance, Boundaries, Static growth, Modelling, Anatomy, Direction and Tracks.
In the above example with John and Jenny things get complicated for a reason.
John started out with Appreciation (flowers) and ended with Coaching (advice). This switch presents a significant issue.
Research has shown that people struggle when they are required to switch tracks. More often than not, people attach themselves to the track upon which they choose and they don’t realise that perhaps they have deveated from tracks of others.
Handling feedback is hard work!
Despite how simple this mistake is, it’s a surprisingly common one, and it can lead to some pretty destructive moments if not handled carefully.
I’ve found that forming a social contract upfront helps.
“Hi Jenny, I bought you these flowers. I hope you like them? No. Oh. Ok. Sorry. Next time I’ll buy you something different. You’re amazing…”
One track. No switching. Get in alignment.
If it’s Appreciation you want to express, don’t slip into Coaching, even if your appreciation falls flat on its face.
When was the last time you found yourself switching tracks?