Monday, July 28, 2008

Improv blogger topic for July

Improv blogger topic for July, originally uploaded by tberrongkc.

First, a photo of my proofreader, who is happy I'm back on the sofa in front of the computer.

The topic: Is there such a thing about being too nice? Too blunt?

Sure there is. And it goes a whole lot deeper than content and delivery.

In my day job, we get a shload of coaching over the course of our careers on both giving and receiving feedback. Communication courses, leadership classes, personal coaching, 360° reviews…all intended to get you past that fight-or-flight instinct that kicks in on both sides of the table.

In improv groups—and everything that comes with being in and running them—feedback can be the most important component of success and growth. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of the time we’re poorly equipped to give or take it. Because…

  • For most folks, neither comes naturally. 
  • It’s volunteer work, mostly—so we often don’t treat it as thoughtfully as when the stakes are higher.
  • It’s about your work—what your brain comes up with in the moment without a script—and that can feel pretty freakin' personal.
  • So many times, we pick something apart without providing alternatives—if you don’t want someone to do one thing, what do you offer to replace it? 
Too nice can mean too watered down—or so sugar-coated—that any nutritional value is diluted or covered up. Too blunt can mean delivery so thoughtless, unkind or inarticulate that even if there is meaning in the message, it won’t get past the defenses it triggers.

The best feedback—and the most likely to be heard—is authentic, offered in the spirit of helping instead of hurting, appropriate to the relationship and given with the permission of the recipient.

Blah, blah, blah.

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