Need help finding a gift this season for that friend, or colleague, or student, or family member? I invite you to consider a very inexpensive, simple, and life-changing gift.
David Rock, author of Quiet Leadership: Help People Think Better-Don’t Tell Them What to Do! (2006) states that people tend to receive positive feedback only a few minutes out of every year, versus thousands of hours of negative feedback.
- Tenacity: Can a student work through a setback or a challenge?
- Determination: In a given task, does a student stay focused and not give up on the goal?
- Optimism: Is there a glimmer in their eye, even when times are tough or the road is long?
Once you have identified some of these specific behaviors, then you can start looking for them. And that’s when being an advisor in the room becomes a whole lot less boring, and much more intentional. Your job is not to simply be present, but to scan the room searching for behaviors that deserve appreciate feedback.
- Observation: Making an observation of a positive action, behavior, or demonstrated quality.
- Acknowledgment: Sharing that observation using the facts of what you saw.
- Appreciation: Helping to give meaning to the action or behavior by sharing what it means to you or the impact it can have.
Some things to consider:
- Sincerity is essential, and fake or throw-away compliments can be smelled a mile away.
- Students are a different levels of growth at all times, and so what would be meaningful appreciative feedback for one might be too simplistic for another.
- During meetings, or activities, and whenever a group of students is together, I challenge myself to find at least 3 students who are deserving of appreciative feedback that day. I try to find different students each time, but some repeat-recipients are inevitable.
- While appreciative feedback is best delivered personally and individually, it’s not always bad for others to overhear, since it helps to build awareness of what behaviors are rewarded.
- On occasion I will deliver appreciative feedback in public to more greatly amplify the message and if I feel the student would benefit from the spotlight of recognition.
Advisors, let’s all commit to making this next year one in which we work harder at appreciative feedback than ever before. I think we’ll be amazed at the results, and also amazed at how much more worthwhile our jobs become.
Let’s give a gift that’s irreplaceable, the gift of appreciative feedback.