Negative Feedback: Culprit or Cheerleader?

I get a lot of e-mail questions… I thought I’d share one with you….

Got a question for you: as an avid proponent of positive reinforcement and praise, I am also keenly aware that those who do not pass through difficult circumstances seldom achieve much—hence the no rich kids on pro sports teams—and I don’t think I have a single friend in the upper echelons of success who didn’t, at one point or another, go through some very rough times, void of much positive encouragement. How do we reconcile these two points???

My response:

It is interesting in our current culture we tend to equate strife and hardship with success. We point to stories where a person made sense of the tragedy in their lives and made it. Many philosophies believe suffering is necessary and to be expected should we want to transcend or reach the transformation Maslow talked about.

Absence of feedback is the most painful thing that can be inflicted on another. Anonymity.. isolation… a critical ingredient of stress and low output. There are 1000000’s of stories of kids destroyed by negative feedback who did not make it into something great. Who chose to spend their life on the couch, in a go-no-where job and in an unhappy marriage. 1000000000’s of these stories. We just don’t hear about them like we do the ones where a kick in the head made the person discover antibiotics. In my view cancer still exists today because the budding scientist who could have cured it had their dreams diminished in 8th grade. They never made it to the lab coat.

Positive feedback has been used as manipulation for way too long. Great job – is not feedback. There is a dark side to both sides of this equation. Both sides. Sugarcoating does as much damage as criticism.

So it all circles around to anonymity. If just one person CARED enough to engage….that seems to be what helped many of us to shift whatever happened into making something happen. It just take one person to spark that belief in something else.

CEO’s can be a coach. We can be the spark that shifts a person’s belief in their abilities into reality. Often CEO’s get caught up in perfect. PERFECT ISN’T.

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