When we pick a flower from our garden and put it in a vase, it seems like a great idea at the time, but it may be short-lived compared to leaving it growing in its habitat: with roots and stems and its foundation intact, it can blossom for weeks or months in some cases.
This reminded me of how we give feedback. Ideally, it should be more feedforward than feedback. Sharing an observation that brings value to the receiver going forward. In their habitat.
Just like giving flowers should be choosing the bouquet that the receiver likes.
But just like the flower taken from its habitat, our well-intended feedback can be given out of context. We may think it’s giving a rose, a flower, a gift of insight from us to them. But, that short-lived, picked flower from us needs to make sense and fit into the receiver’s habitat, their roots, their stems, their foundation.
Do you recognise how we sometimes throw a comment or “feedback” to someone else as we race into the next meeting? As it leaves our mind and mouth, we’re normally done, then “that’s out of the way”, maybe it even felt good and powerful to share it, to get it delivered. We believe we have served a good purpose in that moment.
But great communication is not just delivering. It’s only done when we know it’s received and taken on as intended.
What may seem like an easy pass for us, may give them minutes, hours, days or weeks of frustration or confusion. They may not understand the feedback given – or may make a big deal of it, which we didn’t intend. We won’t know if we don’t check in to see how it lands. And sharing with the receiver’s map in mind.
Like the plant, they live with the roots, the stems, the context – whereas you picking a random flower and thinking “that was brilliant”, may not serve them.
So, be aware before you throw a comment or feedback next time: is it valuable for the receiver? What are they going to do with it from there? What would be the ideal message to feed FORWARD? Are you really giving flowers – or just getting something off your chest??!!
Not everything we observe is valuable for the receiver. For results AND joy, we need to be aware of the power of our words. And use them wisely, as true leaders. In business and life.