I’ve been pondering how to give feedback, especially when I disagree with the point or approach.
This has cropped up because I’m involved in a preaching group — workshopping a different person’s sermon each week — as well our fourth year Issues in Theology class — which consists almost entirely in listening and responding to presentations by class members often dealing with topics of particular pastoral interest (e.g., sin in the life of a believer, the problem of evil, the environment).
My tendency when confronted with disagreement is to say nothing for as long as I can. With the result that minor annoyances quickly become major frustrations — even more so because no-one else picks them up! Needless to say, this Dam It Up Until I Can’t Hold It Back approach is hardly constructive. Nor has it won the love and admiration of my peers.
I really want to improve at this. So I plan to follow the advice of a very wise colleague: assume the person I’m giving feedback to has a reason for what they said.
This puts flesh on the bones of the principle, ‘Don’t get frustrated, get fascinated’. Better, it allows for a thoroughly Christian approach to giving feedback. It lets you explicitly and directly challenge the point you disagree with — and be completely honest about disagreeing. Yet it keeps you humble enough to be taught. Rather than initiating a cycle of attack and counter-attack, it functions as an invitation to enter a conversation.
Can you imagine how differently things might unfold if I gave feedback like this?
I was interested to see that you said this/took this approach, where others may have made another point or approached it a different way; I’d love to hear about why you headed down the path you took…