As a parent, coach, college teacher, psychologist, and sport psychology consultant, my life involves giving regular feedback.
There is an art and science to providing effective feedback. But so much of what counts for advice on this topic falls short of inspirational. Much of it is mechanical (e.g., the feedback sandwich). And most of it misses a fundamental point in the art of feedback. That is why I was so pleased to see Daniel Coyle’s latest blog post on the “Simple phrase that increases effort 40%.” Coyle is referring to a study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The researchers in this study found that the most effective feedback to students utilized a strategy that “emphasized the teacher’s high standards and belief that the student was capable of meeting those standards—a strategy known as wise feedback.”
Coyle summarized the feedback as a 19-word-phrase
I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.
So simple. So direct. And so supportive. And consistent with E.M. Forster’s exhortation (from the novel, Howard’s End) to connect our words and our passions. To reach someone, there has to be a sense of trust for the message to even be heard.
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in fragments no longer.
How often do I feel so strongly about the feedback that I want to provide that I forget about the base? The base of trust and connection that must be present. (And I’m supposed to be good at this… ;-))
So it behooves me and other coaches/parents/teachers to look closely at the message from the art and science of feedback — summarized beautifully by Coyle here:
“I think the lessons for teachers and coaches are pretty simple:
- First, connect: like John Wooden said, they can’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Highlight the group: seek ways (traditions, mantras, fun little rituals) to show what it means to belong in your crew.
- Don’t soft-pedal high standards. Don’t pretend that it’s easy — do the opposite. Emphasize the toughness of the task, and your belief that they have what it takes.”