Spark #

Language Matters

Spark #
Language Matters
What We're Talking About

The principle we're discussing

This spark will help you better understand how to give feedback to employees and colleagues.

Just so we’re clear: Praise is important, but how we praise others is what matters most. Even praising someone’s attempts can still lead to a fixed mindset if you don’t focus on the learning. 

People don’t want to hear “You tried, but you’re still not smart enough.” What they want (and need) is to hear that what they tried to do, and what they learned, is way more important than whether or not they reached their goal in one attempt.

P.S. If you don’t understand this concept right away, that’s okay. Trying to communicate that you value someone’s effort is a hard thing to learn if you’ve never done it before. We’re proud of you for trying and for learning from your mistakes. (See what we did there?)

Watch this breakdown of why language matters in the way we praise: 

Why it Matters

Why this principle is important and matters to you

Praise at work can sometimes feel like a hard thing to navigate. Leaders can become so worried about what praise does (or doesn’t) do for their team, who to praise, and how to praise them, they may stop providing praise (or any kind of feedback) altogether.

For team members, comparison can often come into play, leaving them worried about whether or not they’ll get as much praise as their colleagues. Plus, have you ever tried giving praise or feedback to a supervisor? It’s hard!

Praise doesn’t have to be complicated, though. What if it was just as simple as giving someone valuable, positive feedback on whatever they’re working on?

Turns out, it is. The language we use when providing feedback is important, but you don’t need to overthink it. If your colleague is running a meeting for the first time and they’re doing a great job, telling them “You’re so great at running meetings!” is a fixed mindset way of thinking. After all, if they’re having a rough day while running another meeting and it doesn’t go well, they might immediately assume that you (or others) will think they’re “bad” at running meetings in general. 

Instead, try something like, “Thank you for making sure this meeting is running smoothly! I appreciate how you’re keeping the discussion moving while also giving people time to share.” Finding a specific example of what is (or isn’t) working can make feedback much easier.

7 Tips for Giving Effective Praise
How You Can Use It

This provides practical ways to apply learnings from this Spark

The last time you received great feedback, what did that feel like? Did it feel positive, even if the person giving you feedback was trying to help you improve? Was it actionable?

If not, think about how the feedback could have been more positive and/or impactful. Now try the same thing with the last feedback you gave someone else. Use this exercise to improve your feedback in the future.

Looking for some quick feedback tips? Try these:

  1. Give feedback early: Don’t wait to talk to someone if the feedback you have is going to impact how they’re doing their job or completing a project. You’ll just become more frustrated, which will likely come across once you do give feedback.
  2. Avoid giving feedback on someone’s personality. Instead, focus on their behavior. You can’t change who someone is, but you can ask them to change their behavior.
  3. Be open to receiving feedback as well as giving it. If there are changes that need to be made in order for the whole team to function better, it’s important to be open to those as well.

An opportunity to reflect on yourself and/or your team and how you can apply these insights

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