To criticize used to mean “to give counsel.” Now it too often means to tear down. In the age of instant communicating, we need to pause and think about what true “criticism” really means – feedback.
Without question, praise is the most powerful motivator. I was amazed at the profound meaning a few nice words (that I saw as no big deal) had for someone recently. Yesterday I got this email after I had thanked one of our people: "Wow, Ben. You're welcome. Thanks for noticing! Means a lot that you said something." Encouragement is powerful.
I must continually remind myself as I tend to look towards filling that half filled glass. So must we all.
We have a team of Program Leaders that lead various programs around the country and for them to lead an entire Decker Program takes months of training and extensive feedback. That feedback can easily fall into "tweaks" or "constructive criticism." It is a great reminder that there has to be encouragement with that. Another of our Program Leaders reminded me she still has a note from me stating “Nice Job” on an initial program that she led...from 3 years ago! I don’t remember doing it, but I’m glad I did.
We run into problems as speakers when we don’t take the time to solicit objective feedback. Although I now make my living from professional speaking, it wasn't so long ago that I should have been paying people to listen to me (and even then might not have packed the house). I didn’t begin changing until I heard myself bumble through a speech on an audio playback. In just three minutes! Unbelievable. This prompted action.
I began seeking all kinds of feedback. There are three basic types, what we call the 3 x 3 Rule.
The 3 x 3 Rule: Pursue and obtain:
3 positive aspects of your presentation
3 areas where you could improve
You apply the 3 x 3 Rule via:
- People feedback – in every presentation, ask five people to provide feedback to you according to the the 3 x 3 Rule.
- Video-record every presentation you give (a quick and simple way to do this is with flip video cameras). When you see and hear it played back, write down your observations according to the 3 x 3 Rule.
- Audio-record yourself at every opportunity. When was the last time you listened to a voice mail of yourself? (In many cases, you can hit # to playback and approve it before sending.) Record conference calls and business/board presentations. You don't have to listen to the whole thing - 10-30 seconds will give you a feel for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you multiply the 3 x 3 rule, you get more than 9. What you obtain is a foundation upon which you can build an action plan for excellence.