How to Deliver Meaningful Feedback to Your Kids – or to Anyone

Most parents think their role is to correct – to watch for the places that their kids miss the mark and get them back on the mark. So if the greatest amount of communication your kids hear from you is correcting or criticism, how likely are they to want to tune in?

It is the same for the workplace. If your communication as a manager is primarily critical or corrective, you will disengage your employees. It isn’t that they don’t and shouldn’t get corrective feedback, but if it is the only feedback they get they will soon just tune you out. And throw out the term ‘constructive criticism’ – who even pays attention to anything introduced by this oxymoron (constructive – build up, criticism – take down). Lose that term and just give focus on feedback.

Feedback is information. That means as much as it can be corrective, it can also applaud and be supportive. Its sole purpose is to share information in this moment, about this person’s behavior, in this situation – to make the next moment better.

How to deliver feedback to your kids – or to anyone

  1. Show up present and aware to your situations. You can’t offer feedback – supportive or corrective – if you have no idea of what is going on. Most of us are so mindless that we only notice things when they go really wrong. That means most of the time we are missing the things that go right – all worthy of supportive feedback. Tune in. Pay attention. You can’t guide, support and coach if you don’t know what is going on.
  2. Make feedback only supportive or corrective. Supportive means you identified something done well that deserves praise or acknowledgement – to encourage it to be repeated. Corrective means the action missed the mark and needs to improve or change. Feedback is done only to be productive, not so an angry parent or manager can vent. Vent if you must, then get on to feedback.
  3. Make feedback only about behaviors. Feedback is information on how someone acts or acted – not who someone is. You may be upset at the actions of your 5 year old or your 20 year old (or your millennial or boomer employee), but that doesn’t make them bad, horrible or awful. Their behaviors may be off the mark, but who they are at the core as people, is still unique, amazing and awesome. The same with supportive feedback – it is supporting or applauding the behavior. Reconnecting to their core greatness is one of the purposes of powerful supportive or corrective feedback.
  4. Deliver feedback in a way that the other person understands it. Feedback has two parts – its content and its delivery. Be sure both of these align to who is receiving the feedback. Big explanations to someone young or raising a voice to someone who is timid and shy will guarantee that you will not be heard. You will be tuned out. Choose what to say. Choose how to say it. Be intentional.

Our job as parents is to guide, support and coach our kids to discover, develop and live what is best in them. This is one enormous feedback exercise. Our kids experience their world, get feedback and make adjustments. In fact we all do. Imagine how much clearer and easier this process would be if we were better at delivering meaningful feedback.

How will you change your feedback to be more current, more supportive or corrective, delivered in a way that matters, limited to behaviors and done with care, interest and concern? You can inspire anyone to keep doing what is going well and correct what needs improvements with great feedback.