Providing Positive FeedbackThe deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. William JamesNever, never let class members go home with a feeling that they are failures, that they can never learnto speak before groups. If you permit them to do that, then they are worse off than if they had neverjoined the course at all. They are likely to drop out and develop a far worse feeling of inferiority thanthey had previously. —Dale Carnegie, The Art of Dale Carnegie TrainingThe Purpose of Providing Positive Feedback Praise and attention may easily have a profound effect on an individual’s entire life. —Dale CarnegieAnytime a participant speaks or acts, the trainer has an opportunity to respond to the individual. Theresponse indicates that the trainer is listening and that the participant’s contributions are important.The inverse of this could also be true.Since Dale Carnegie Training® is primarily facilitation driven, responding adds to the session in severalways: it moves the pace of the session along; it rewards idea sharing; it encourages risk taking; and itbuilds a positive participatory adult learning environment. Effective Responses: Offer encouragement Provide a feeling of victory Reassure participants that they are making progress toward objectives Keep the session moving at a brisk pace Help participants relate the training to their professional goalsThe ultimate objective of a trainer’s response is to provide participants with positive, constructivefeedback that relates an observed strength to progress toward their training objectives. This can be
achieved primarily through providing genuine feedback that is considered encouraging by the participant.Mr. Carnegie gave us guidance by stating that every comment that we make should be warm, friendlyand encouraging. And though our responses should be brief, whenever practical they are to be aimed atthe entire class and not just the person who has just spoken.The Responding ProcessAn effective response is born out of close listening and observation of a participant, followed bycorrelating that information with the knowledge that we have about his or her objectives for participatingin the training. The structure of a response: Begins by highlighting a specific strength (what we observed) Is supported by evidence (based upon the observed performance) Relates the strength to participant and client objectivesBeing very clear and specific is very important for a number of reasons: a) it provides more meaning to the receiver b) it keeps up the energy and pace in the training room c) it helps us to remain time conscious Practice the following format for conciseness: Strength or quality—related to the vision or session objectives (1 word) Evidence—brief, avoid re-telling (5 words or fewer) Relevance to the objectives and the learning of the entire class (10 words or fewer)As is the case when developing the skill of coaching, responding requires that we look for connections—closing of the gap—between the behaviors/attitudes demonstrated versus the desired outcomes stated byway of vision statements; breakthrough commitments; session learning objectives; previous statementsmade; organizational objectives, etc. Through our responses, we then highlight the progress being madewhile providing evidence to add objectivity and credibility.
Don’t’ “Listening for the Bulls Eye ”Listening for the Bull’s EyeWe must develop the ability to deliver responses that would be considered deep and meaningful versusflattery or obvious. Flattery is often thought of as superficial, insincere praise, and perhaps obligatorywhen given by a trainer. The obvious responses tend to be overly apparent and evident on the surface toalmost everyone; therefore, they can lack motivation and inspiration. A positive, insightful response canreinforce an individual’s self-perception. These are the praise responses focused upon reinforcingpositive behaviors that the individual may have thought he or she possessed but was either notconvinced of, or was not sure, that others had noticed. The most meaningful responses tend to be thosethat lead to breakthroughs. The participant’s breakthrough comes about as a result of the trainer’sremarks and helps the participant uncover some quality that had gone unrecognized about him orherself. This leads to the person having a self-discovery by thinking, ―I didn’t realize that about myself,but I think the trainer is right.‖ The recognition and belief that he or she not only has this quality but thatperhaps there are other traits yet to be uncovered, can be like finding a diamond mine for one’s self-esteem. The genuine way in which the response is delivered, reinforced by unmistakable evidence, can
make all the difference in whether the response is embraced or rejected by the person on the receivingend.What are the Types of Responses?Responses generally fall into four different categories:1. Highlighting: Giving sincere appreciation or praise based upon our observations, being cautious to avoid the overly obvious.2. Reinforcing: Stating a strength or quality the participant may be unsure of or uncertain of how it relates to his or her vision. He/she may have simply not made the connection.3. Developmental: Molding, refining by our comments to help develop a strength.4. Corrective: Inspiring a participant to new and different heights and challenges. As Mr. Carnegie said, ―… lift the individual’s sights and give vision and faith in his or her own powers.‖Ten Tips for Trainers—Responding1. Recognize a strength in the participant and state why that strength is important and relevant.2. Be brief: 10–20 seconds or fewer.3. Be spontaneous as a result of active listening.4. Focus on the participant and not on self.5. Direct responses to the individual.6. Direct the response to the individual, then direct the relevance to the entire group.7. Direct the response to the entire class, with the participant as the subject of the recognition.8. Make the response in the form of a (rhetorical) question.9. Get the class to respond.Ensure the response is person-centered. Do not reiterate what the participant already said or did.Highlight a strength (―build confidence‖), relate the strength or equality to the participant’s vision, tosession objectives and to real-life relevance and applications.